Dubai- United Arab Emirates, April 2022: A survey run by Addaera Research & Polls Centre, the first local independent public opinion survey centre in the UAE, revealed that the new timings positive impact scored low indices. Mild positive impact on life-career balance and work productivity, among other factors, was reported.
The UAE government announced the implementation of new work timings starting from January 2022. The decision entailed a working week of four and a half days from Monday to Friday, with Saturday and Sunday to be off-days.
The new work timings aimed at promoting the quality of work performance, increasing productivity rates, and sustaining banking sector and stock markets operations. The new timings pattern has been described to be underlining the flexibility of local and federal work system and its ability to cope with international circumstances.
Two months after the implementation of new working week timings, Addaera Research & Polls Centre conducted a survey to evaluate the public opinion about its impact on professional and social life in the Emirati society.
Addaera published the short survey in both Arabic and English through a link posted on its social media platforms, and was also circulated through text messages targeting both Emiratis and residents in the UAE, males and females, within the age group of 15 years old and above.
The survey included 15 questions featured different research aspects within the mentioned study objectives, and was active in the period from 16 to 21 March 2022.
1253 respondents took part in the survey, among who 28.7% were Emiratis, 71.3% were residents from 50 different nationalities. Participants were 67.2% from Dubai, 16.3% from Abu Dhabi, 10.9% from Sharjah. Female participants constituted 75.2% of total respondents, while age group 30 years old and above reached 87.5%, employees 59.0% and housewives 29.7%.
Hana Lootah, CEO of Addaera Research & Polls Centre, clarified that the survey was conducted to understand the consequences of changing the working week on the quality of professional and social life, along with measuring positive and negative impact indices on different aspects.
“These indices may change as the new working week will be experienced for longer time; which requires a subsequent study to compare between previous and coming results in light of the collected impact data. There is also a need for the specialized authorities to conduct more studies to measure impact indices on public and private sectors,” Lootah added.
New Work Timings Applied on 91% of Workers and 97% of Students
Data analysis shows that work places of 90.9% of respondents have applied the new work timings inline with the UAE government’s decision; among who 55.2%, indicated an increase in their working hours.
Only 12.3% of employees mentioned that their work places discussed financial compensation for overtime work, compared to 87.7% of respondents who admitted that they had not been offered any salary adjustment or contractual change.
With regard to educational institutions, 96.6% of student respondents indicated that their schools or universities have changed their weekly attendance days in response to the government’s decision. 57.1% of these participants confirmed that their weekly attendance hours have been increased, compared to 42.9% whose educational institutions did not increase the hours.
New Timings Impact Indices
Based on responses percentage, overall positive and negative impact indices of the new timings were calculated, focusing on life-work balance, work productivity levels, and challenges due to working on Friday.
Respondents did not indicate noticeable positive impact of the new timings on their daily life in terms of domestic and family responsibilities, communication among family members, transportation and individual activities.
The average negative impact index scored 67.2%, as the length of school day was the highest at 73.0%, followed by declined ability to pursue domestic responsibilities at 69.3%, with 69.7% among females and 68.0% among males. Lower ability to fulfil family obligations scored 69.1%.
Index of negative impact on other aspects, including follow up on children’s studies, communication with family members at home, communication with others inside and outside the country and time consumed in transportation scored between 63.5% and 66.5%.
On the other hand, positive impact index reached highest point at 28.3% on communication with family and friends inside the country among residents, 27.9% on communication with family members at home, and between 22.5% and 26.7% on other aspects.
Work Productivity Levels
The average index of new timings negative impact on work productivity, opportunity to communicate with clients outside the country, communication among employees and workforce policy reached 60.9%.
54.3% of respondents confirmed they felt negative impact on communication with clients outside the country, compared to 23.6% who reported a positive impact.
With regard to workforce policies, 62.1% of employees indicated a negative impact. Also 65.5% reported negative impact on communication among employees at work places, compared to 22.7% who found a positive impact.
Challenges due to Working on Friday
85.6% of respondents reported that they face challenges due to working on Friday, compared to 14.4% who indicated no challenges.
Results show that the most significant challenges faced by respondents due to working on Friday are missing the usual family gatherings by 90.4% of respondents, traffic congestion around Friday prayer time by 75.9% and insufficient time during weekends to fulfil family needs because of some markets closure on Sunday by 71.4%.
63.8% reported difficult communication with clients in countries where Friday is off. 63.3% mentioned the inability to reach the mosque before the Friday sermon.
The long working day (2 extra hours added to compensate for Friday prayer time) was referred to as a challenge by 54.3% of respondents, and insufficient working hours on Friday is another challenge for 38.7%.
Through open-ended answers, some respondents mentioned that working on Friday has negatively impacted their feeling of Friday’s religious sacredness. Also, respondents expressed their discontent with parents’ inability to take their children to the mosque, and the change of Friday prayers time.