The concept of Work from Home (WFH) and virtual meetings was once little known in the pre-pandemic world. The idea of flexible work policies was only applicable to very few, usually in higher positions up the corporate ladder. And as we enter the post-pandemic phase, the world has now seen what’s possible with remote work and there is no turning back.
At the start of the pandemic, many were worried about how they will manage to work from home. But we have seen an interesting shift in the market. WFH is now the preferred way to work for most employees. A study titled Life and Work Beyond 2020 interviewed 10,000 respondents in 11 countries, including the UAE, and concluded that 64% of the people would be happy with a work-from-home model. They also believed that it would boost employee productivity.
In simple terms, hybrid work models refer to flexible working structures that actively support a mix of on-site, remote, and on-the-go workers. The idea is to provide employees with more autonomy and the choice to either work from the office or anywhere else so that they can be happier and more productive.
Ultimately, this means that employees are more proactive during working hours and can strike a more suitable work-life balance which can have a far-reaching impact on a business. Happier employees undoubtedly lead to happier, returning customers – regardless of the business industry.
Just like the rest of the world, companies operating within the UAE adopted the hybrid work model for their employees during the lockdown. The UAE has witnessed a dramatic rise and fall in cases in the past one year. Given the uncertain state of affairs, companies have had no choice but to reshape their structures and allow their employees to work at their own pace.
Companies have also started to look at the positives that can be reaped through the use of hybrid work models. One of the biggest benefits of this model is the massive dip in organizational and overhead costs. They are also better able to retain talent with this approach. This serves as a breather for the company as the process of continuously hiring replacements can not only be exhausting but can also add a significant cost to the business.
Flexible Work Policies Combat Great Resignation
A term coined primarily for the U.S workers voluntarily resigning from their jobs, “The Great Resignation” has now become an economic trend throughout the world. Simply put, the Great Resignation, also known as the Great Reshuffle, refers to employees looking to move jobs.
This surge in resignations has been fueled by adverse factors such as a poor work-life balance, declining mental health, and a lack of appreciation at work. Here in the UAE, approximately 90% of workers are inclined to work in a completely remote or hybrid model in the future, according to a Cisco Global Hybrid Work Study.
The new demands of employees can also be looked at from a different angle. The pandemic has led a lot of people to fundamentally re-evaluate their priorities, especially after it proved that a large chunk of business operations can be completed from home.
Additionally, the ever-growing inflation rate and the resulting rise in the cost of living have pushed families to become ever more careful with their overall spending. With a hybrid structure, people can save money that would have otherwise gone into fuel, wardrobe maintenance, etc.
How Do Flexible Work Policies Improve Productivity?
Companies that have a hybrid work model can vouch for the benefits that come along with it. Some of the main benefits of this structure include;
Gives employees a choice
A hybrid model gives employees a chance to work at their own pace and in their preferred place. Some people find comfort in their homes, while others may look forward to the hustle and bustle of the office to get their work done. This allows employees to find more meaning in their work and enjoy greater productivity. Research extracted by Khaleej Times suggests that the shift to hybrid work helped 85% of the surveyed companies increase employee productivity.
Opens the door to professional and personal development
Employees feel more valued when they are given the freedom to shape their work life for themselves. They also feel good about their jobs as a result and naturally help create a better overall work culture. Moreover, a hybrid work model also encourages more possibilities for learning. With free time on their hands, employees can try their luck at exploring new aspects of work that can be utilised for professional and personal development. It’s not a surprise that online professional development platforms saw a 3000% increase in the number of enrollment for new courses.
Better financial and mental wellbeing
Flexible, hybrid or fully remote work policies allow employees to enjoy better mental wellbeing. This helps in preventing breakdowns and burnout. Let’s take an example. In Dubai, if an employee has to drive an hour to get to work, get stuck in traffic, and pay an average of AED 300 per month for a parking spot outside of work, he is already exhausted by the time he reaches the office.
A work-from-home policy saved him at least two hours per day. They could use this time and the AED 300 they saved to go to the gym or do something they enjoy. Over the long-term, this translates into better mental well-being and lowered stress levels in their personal lives which can directly impact employee productivity and as a result the business’s bottom line. Additionally, companies that focus on corporate wellness fare better in many ways and successfully retain top talent.
– Reduced employee turnover
Because employees are demanding more flexibility when it comes to their professional lives, not doing so can spike employee turnover for companies. Flexible work policies can also significantly reduce employee turnover. It will also create a positive employer brand that high-performers gravitate towards. Additionally, replacing employees is costly to any business. On average, it can cost around AED 15,180 to replace one employee.
Businesses survive and thrive by attracting and retaining customers. Think about this for a moment; what if every time your client is renewing a contract, she has to deal with a new person and try to figure out their relationship all over again? If you are competing on price alone, you have already lost the competition.
With that said, flexible work policies are the most cost-effective way to increase employee productivity, reduce stress, sustain business growth and improve talent retention. They can also be made a key part of corporate wellness programs. Such policies make employees happy which simply results in happier customers and stronger business growth. This is applicable to all industries, whether you run a restaurant, salon, or management consultancy firm. This is the secret to success.