Saturday is the new Friday now. Employees and school children juggled work and studies with weekly Muslim prayers on the first ever working Friday in the UAE as the country officially switched to a Saturday-Sunday weekend.
UAE announced last month that from the start of 2022 the public work week will go down to 4.5 days – meaning, lengthier weekends from Friday afternoon through Sunday. While the new work week was specific to public sector bodies, however, private enterprises are inevitably adapting the same policy.
This will in time result in an improvement in employee well-being in general. A shorter work week is generally good for morale too. As per research it increases 40 per cent productivity and lessens expenses. Shorter work week positions us at the forefront of similar international efforts, with Iceland having trialed a four-day week from 2015-2019 which improved employee wellbeing, and Spain looking to make a similar move next year.
There is no doubt that the new working week will present short-term challenges. In the long run will be positive for global alignment, productivity, and employee well-being. This change also cements the UAE’s reputation as a leading light for businesses in the middle east. The private sector is in favour of this new change but the companies that will thrive as employers of choice will be those that continue to stay attuned to the needs of their diverse workforces.
UAE officials have not made it compulsory for companies and they are free to make the decision as per suitability to their business and have given no instruction or advice to make the Monday-Friday switch. More than 80% believe in a positive impact over UAE businesses. However, more than a third were unsure about the effect the change to the working week would have on business in the Middle East.
The weekend switch was a surprise announcement made by UAE for the public sector in December as it grapples with rising competition in international business from other countries. As a logistics brand we work globally with other continents, hence the change seems positive businesswise.