An in-depth analysis of UAE’s new workweek policy
The UAE has recently announced significant changes to its workweek and weekends. The Gulf country is implementing a 4.5-day work week, with weekends consisting of Friday afternoon, Saturday, and Sunday. Until recently, the UAE has had a Friday-Saturday weekend, as is common in many Muslim-majority nations.
With this new workweek policy, the UAE government is making efforts to improve work-life balance and social well-being while increasing performance to advance the nation’s economic competitiveness.
While the new work week was only mandated for government agencies, for now, many private businesses have followed suit.
In theory, this could boost international-oriented businesses, a key pillar of the economy, and attract foreign investment.
However, it presents some challenges in managing output costs, though there is some evidence that a shorter working week can boost workforce productivity.
Borderless Access conducted a study to analyze how effective this new policy of shorter working week is in driving employees to ‘work smarter’ rather than ‘work longer.’ Let’s look at the insights gathered.
The awareness level for the New Workweek Policy
Overall, the three locations and all age groups seem to be almost aware of the new work week policy. Individual employees at all three locations noted a high level of awareness.
The Happiness Quotient for the New Workweek Policy
A higher proportion of government employees welcomes this policy change, while the opinion is split evenly among business owners.
Residents feel confident that the policy will not be restricted only to government entities.
Respondents from all three locations seem to be almost equally happy with the new policy. A few people in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain foresee few demerits of the policy and feel least happy as compared to other locations.
Impact on various aspects of lives
From an economic standpoint, the new week will allow the UAE to better align with global markets, facilitating stronger business links abroad and creating better opportunities for thousands of UAE-based and multinational companies.
It will also help towards enhancing global competitiveness.
The new workweek will also bring the UAE’s financial sector into closer alignment with global real-time trading and communications-based transactions. These include global stock markets, banks, and financial institutions.
The majority of people in Dubai feel that this policy would help in the betterment of professional life. Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, and Sharjah second this thought and feel that the policy would enhance global competitiveness and increase performance.
According to respondents in all three locations, the new work-life balance policy will help improve quality of life, enhance social well-being, and produce an enjoyable lifestyle.
On the other hand, there is also an apprehension that it could lead to higher work pressure on working days.
This new policy permits employees to pursue their hobbies like gardening, craftwork, or social activities, on the weekends.
However, a section of employees is still apprehensive. They feel the policy might increase the workload on working days.
This new workweek policy is a win-win solution for both the employee and the employer.
However, organizations need to ensure that any changes they make to working practices receive adequate assessement in terms of risk, operational impact, and employee work-life balance.
The long-term outlook for global alignment, productivity, and employee well-being looks very promising. It is cementing the UAE’s reputation as a leading business center in the region.
An immediate concern however will be striking the right balance between this initiative and aligning business partners and customers across the Middle East.
Borderless Access predicts that, in time, other nations will follow UAE’s example, since the country is a proven innovator and leader in the region.