The Future of Work: Remote Working
As business practices continue to inch closer to pre-Covid 'normality', an ongoing debate remains as to what this will mean for the future of remote working along with the systems and approaches previously introduced by employers in response to Covid restrictions. This debate has further recently intensified through the news early this month that Tesla employees will be ordered to return to the office full-time.
Tesla is not alone, with companies in many sectors, including the financial sector, setting an expectation for staff to return to the office. Socially, the debate as noted by commentators has begun to focus on employee wellbeing, with remote working opportunities across sectors and industries undoubtedly becoming a key factor in the attraction of staff.
However, from a business perspective, remote working remains a double-edged sword. Studies note that whilst remote working has meant reduced overheads (notably in respect of real estate office costs) and in many cases increased productivity of employees, difficulties in respect of team cohesion, oversight of employees, support and communication all pose new challenges for employers.
As companies continue to internally consider their approaches to remote working, there is some certainty that the way in which they operate will need to be reviewed. Whether this is a review of business process (for example from a HR perspective), IT, data and IT security measures, or materially reviewing their corporate structure and real estate assets, remote working and similar hybrid arrangements will no doubt remain a key item on business plans for the foreseeable future.
Across the region, the Middle East is no exception to this global trend and regional infrastructure investments, and projects have undoubtedly aided the ease with which employees are able to work remotely during lockdowns. Uniquely, however, the decision as to whether remote working will be incorporated into future strategy will also (in the context of expatriate employees and employers across the region) turn on considerations such as visa requirements, tax and withholding considerations and gratuity/pension implications. These considerations, in addition to local labour law considerations, are integral to future business planning and responding to market demands.
For further insight into this topic and considerations, please note the following insights: