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Remote working is here to stay – and the Gulf is no exception

Middle Eastern economies need to attract the best talent to meet their goals. And despite what Elon Musk thinks, the best people can do great work remotely

Woman working remotely Unsplash
Remote working has forced us to waste less time in meetings

Remote working is in the news again, after a leaked email from Elon Musk telling Tesla employees to return to the office full time, or find another job.

Despite the experiences of the past two years, when many individuals and organisations had no choice but to work from home, there are far too many CEOs who think like Musk –and want every single person to be in the office, all the time.

My issue with this is that circumstances have changed. During the pandemic, employees showed that they can not only deliver good work from home, but that they often overcompensate. In other words, many of us who work remotely are putting in additional hours.

There are other obvious benefits for organisations, such as the ability to tap into talent anywhere in the world (so long as the internet connection is fast enough) and not losing time to employees’ commutes (a huge draw for many people).

Being in the office nine to five does have benefits. There are the conversations that turn into ideas that get people excited. There’s the atmosphere, which can be electric when you’re starting out or are passionate about what you are doing. There’s also the ability to learn and absorb information from the people around you – especially useful for those at the beginning of their careers.

Even with those advantages, remote working is reshaping our approach to our tasks and targets.

We’re being much more efficient when it comes to meetings and people have more opportunities to relax when they need a break (can you really do a power nap at work?) and come back reinvigorated.

Ditching the commute and grabbing a bite to eat from the kitchen saves time and money – a welcome development given the inflationary pressures many of us are facing.

Remote working has also been a boon for employees who class themselves as introverts. Not having to be in the office environment is more enjoyable for them, but it has also given them an opportunity to shine. For them and their employers, working from home has been transformational.

In the current business climate, where it is increasingly difficult to find talent to fill roles, the option to work remotely is a powerful draw. Many firms, in particular multinationals and tech companies, have embraced the concept, both as a means to attract the best people as well as to reduce office costs.

Those companies that do not adapt are going to find that they lose their best people and that it is much harder to attract talented replacements.

If the Gulf is to achieve its ambitious national goals and realise faster growth, it must attract the best talent. This will inevitably mean adapting to new working models, which includes remote working.

Those businesses and business leaders who do will pull ahead. Those who don’t will be left behind. Remote working is here to stay, including in the Gulf.

Alex Malouf is a marketing communications executive who has spent the past 18 years in the Middle East