The UAE has been experiencing moderate to heavy rainfall for the past couple of days, and many residents have opted to work from home during the rainy season. Certain companies have allowed or encouraged employees to work remotely rather than getting stuck in traffic during flooding after the rain.
Companies say that tools are in place for employees to work from home to maintain workflow and productivity. The unstable weather conditions that started on Monday continued on Tuesday. Videos showed roads, streets and wadis were flooded after the heavy rains in Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and other areas.
“Many people will opt to stay at home during rainy days, depending on the conditions. There have been times with my team when I told everyone to work from home, even during terrible fog and low visibility on the roads. A number of UAE drivers are not used to these conditions, and often the roads are very dangerous,” says Nicki Wilson, managing director of Genie Recruitment.
She said many candidates cancel interviews due to rainfall, and meetings are rescheduled. Wilson added that many companies might be more flexible with working from home when weather conditions are not good.
“A lot of schools close when the weather is bad. With no childcare available at short notice for parents, many are forced to work from home impromptu to look after their children.”
Deepa Sud, CEO, Plum Jobs, a Dubai-based HR business transformation and executive search consultancy, said some employees experience longer commuting time during inclement weather.
“In exceptional circumstances, employers are permitting individuals to work from home where it is virtually impossible for their employees to commute. Employees who have the option of working from home would be more productive as they save time in their commute to and from work,” she said.
Nikhil Nanda, operations manager at Innovations Group, said going to the office is easy for employees who live close to their workplace. But those who live in Sharjah, for example, and have to drive to work in Dubai, would definitely prefer to work from home.
“Those travelling by metro are not as inconvenienced. Other than the commute, there is also a factor in a person’s attitude towards rainy weather. Some people are enthusiastic about the rain and prefer leaving their homes to work in outdoor cafes or workspaces, while others share negative sentiments and prefer to stay at home.”
Firms allow WFH
Hilmarie Hutchison, CEO, Matrix Public Relations, said they allow their employees to work from home depending on the travel time to the office or flooding in and around their residences.
“We have the tools to ensure that everyone stays connected no matter where they are working from and strive to ensure equality for both those in and those outside the workspace,” added Hutchison.
Peter Maerevoet, global CFO and the regional CEO for Asia, Tradewind Finance, said they always encouraged a work-from-home policy during the rains which helped employees to balance both work and personal time.
“Additionally, working from home encourages the team to be more communicative, disciplined and proactive. Coming into the office is still great as we get to meet each other, and it does boost morale however different people have different comfort zones and flexibility on where you can work from, which goes a long way for better mental health,” he said.
Tradewind Finance follows a two-day work-from-home policy and the team can pick the days they would like to not come into the office because everyone is technologically empowered and can connect to their emails.
“Days like today when the weather can make commuting to work challenging for some workers, allowing the team to work in their own comfort (home or office) makes them feel looked after by the company,” he added.
Farhat Ali Khan, managing partner, Century Maxim International, said rains are a rare occurrence in this part of the world, hence, waterlogging and lack of visibility while driving are concerns.
“We have systems in place to facilitate and adequately address such uncertainties without affecting productivity. We welcome a work-from-home culture in such scenarios while being cautious that our team members are maintaining a robust data protection mechanism in order to protect the interest of our clients,” Khan said.
Benefits of WFH
Genie Recruitment managing director Wilson argued that working from home is beneficial for employees in order to avoid dangerous road conditions due to inclement weather and it’s more productive to work from home in such conditions.
“Often extra time is needed to get to work (in rainy season), therefore, it would be more productive for many to just open their laptops at home. Many drivers are not used to driving in these conditions and we generally are not well equipped for weather that is not dry and hot! Most people do not even own an umbrella!” she added.
Nikhil Nanda said the obvious benefit of work from home during rain is that the commute tends to be longer, hence employees waste a significant amount of time in travel rather than either getting a few more hours of much-needed sleep or starting off their morning routine to ensure they have a productive workday.
“After a long commute, the employee is already physically and mentally drained so employers cannot expect them to work at full productivity till they clock out. Another benefit is that employees feel cared for when the employer is concerned about them commuting to work in such weather. This results in a stronger relationship between the two parties and thus employees would ensure to be more productive out of loyalty towards their employers,” added Nanda.
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