COVID-19 has played havoc on people’s working lives around the world. We have taken a closer look at how the pandemic has affected people working in the Middle East, specifically in the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
At least two-thirds of workers in the Middle East describe the pandemic as having a considerable impact on their working lives. Less than 4% of the working population in all three countries claim to have been unaffected. While less than a fifth of workers describe having lost their jobs, it is a loss of income that is the major stressor in this region, with half of all workers asserting to have lost a significant portion of their income.
Like their colleagues around the world, large segments of the Middle Eastern workforce have suddenly found themselves working from home, a change that is not without its challenges. Managing an increased workload -- a burden experienced by a quarter of UAE workers -- combined with childcare has led many workers to consider changing their jobs.
Though few people have returned to their pre-pandemic working lives, job security is a concern for many of the working population. Only 7% of workers in the UAE feel that their job is safe. More than a third of workers in this region feel that their jobs will have been permanently altered by the pandemic.
Of the three countries surveyed most workers have already returned to work, with less than a third of workers in the UAE and KSA considering a permanent change to work-from-home. Egyptians are the most inclined to seriously consider this option with 42% claiming they’d like to make the change permanent. This may be attributed to the high-cost of setting up an at-home workspace. With three-quarters of workers in the KSA having had to make special arrangements to continue working from home.
The term ‘telecommuting’ has been bandied about for decades, and the pandemic has provided an opportunity for large swathes of the world’s workforce to experiment with this option. For more on this read our article Are Home Offices the New Norm? For working from home to be viable for them, workers in the Middle East rank childcare and a reliable and fast internet connection as the most important changes that would need to be implemented.
As with employees worldwide, those in the Middle East require social distancing and sanitation practices to be implemented before they return to work, with sanitising supplies being the most important requirement.
Naturally, an enormous impact of job losses and pay cuts has been a reduced spend on almost all categories, worldwide. In our forthcoming article, we explore the impact of the pandemic on shopping, available spend and the latest behaviour of consumers as they acclimatize to this situation. We also take a look at how COVID-19 has impacted on attitudes to health and fitness, as these topics come to the fore, for many.
While the challenges to people’s working lives are numerous and often unseen, we must remember the unintended positive consequences of the pandemic. Moving to digital platforms has never been taken as seriously as in the current environment. For more on this topic read our earlier article Beyond the pandemic.
The pandemic has altered working environments worldwide, however by allowing so many to try out new ways of working, in addition to encouraging people to try out new skills, or adopt new hobbies. COVID-19 pandemic has also shown us that changes, such as internet accessibility and appropriate childcare, can offer a whole new way of working for large sectors of the working population.
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