Technology has blurred lines between workplace and home

Technology has been redefining the employee-to-working hours relationships for some time now, says expert

By Jumana KhamisStaff Reporter
17:38 August 19, 2017

Dubai: Although the term ‘Leaveism’ was coined recently, the concept is not a new phenomenon, said a Dubai career expert.

Rania Nseir, Director of Business Development, pointed out the challenges that arise whenever employees are under pressure – due to a heavy workload or lack of work-life balance. In fact this issue has been around for a long time, said Nseir.

[Technology has] brought changes to the work requirements ... even in the day-to-day dynamics in the workplace and to many professionals, these changes can be unsettling.”-Rania Nseir | Director, Business 

“It may be that the changing work environment, due to technological or even economic occurrences, have lead to increasingly stressed employees in recent years,” she said.

She referred to the findings of a poll by on ‘Stress in the Mena workplace,’ which showed that around 52 per cent of respondents agreed that workplaces nowadays are more stressful than they were a few years ago and 35 per cent of them believe that they spend too much time at work.

“Nobody can deny the huge impact of technology in the workplace,” said Nseir.

She explained that the possibilities to connect with others, accomplish tasks, and organise projects through technology have in many cases increased the efficiency and productivity of employees. However, technology has also “brought changes to the work requirements, skills in demand, and even the day-to-day dynamics in the workplace, and to many professionals, these changes can be unsettling,” explained Nseir.

The poll also showed that 42.1 per cent of respondents claimed that technology (i.e. emails, smartphones) makes their jobs less stressful, almost the same proportion (40 per cent) think the opposite, claiming that such technology makes their jobs more stressful. “What these numbers suggest is that it is really dependent on the individual employee and how they deal with technology in their jobs,” explained Nseir.

In another poll on Happiness and Personal fulfilment in the Mena, 71 per cent of professionals stated that they are stressed on a daily basis, and one third (33 per cent) of professionals who responded to the poll also said that a better work-life balance would cause them to feel more fulfilled overall.

“The causes of stress can vary between financial obligations, job requirements, and personal matters,” pointed out Nseir.

She explained that while some employees want to impress their bosses or demonstrate their value to the company by putting in the extra hours of work, others simply lack the time-management skills.

While employers play a major role in enhancing their employees’ wellbeing and empowering them to achieve work-life balance, employees should also feel equally responsible for achieving their work-life balance.

“This starts as early as being a job seeker. As an employee, you have the right to speak to your manager when you feel that your workload is unbearable. You should also know when to draw the line and when to take your well-deserved breaks,” said Nseir.

Facts and figures:

96% of respondents to the poll: Health and Lifestyle in the Middle East and North Africa, believe it is the employer’s responsibility to promote the employee’s health and well-being.

77.4% of respondents to the poll: Stress in the MENA Workplace, believe they could do a much better job if they were given more time.

52% of respondents agreed that workplaces nowadays are more stressful than they were a few years ago

35% of respondents believe that they spend too much time at work

15% of respondents to the Survey: Job Satisfaction in the Middle East and North Africa, believe that their company shows a strong interest in the wellbeing of its employees

75% of professionals claim that working in a flexible environment is important to them.

Tips for employers- to help employees achieve work-life balance:

Employers must assess workload and working hours by taking a look at their employees’ tasks, projects, and responsibilities and see whether their workload is realistically achievable within their regular working hours

Employers must communicate with your employee to check in with them, gain their feedback, and understand how you can help them achieve work-life balance

Employers must offer more flexibility and help their employees be healthier and more balanced by offering them flexible hours, remote work options, or similar arrangements that can make their working days less stressful and much more productive.

Corporate Wellness Programmes in UAE

While the concept of ‘Leaveism’ seems to be a common practice among employees in the UAE, more companies in the country are implementing wellness programmes in the office.

A recent MEED survey of 136 companies showed 66 per cent of respondents are now implementing wellness programmes in the office, with the aim of giving their staff a wellness boost to promote health and wellbeing as well as encourage better employee engagement. This showed an increase from 45 per cent of companies in the previous year.

“This is a great improvement from just a year ago, an encouraging sign that bodes well for not just the individual welfare of employees, but also the overall wellbeing of the company,” says Dr. Michael Bitzer, CEO at National Health Insurance Company – Daman.

The study was conducted ahead of the 2017 launch of the Daman Corporate Health Awards, which has become an important benchmark of corporate health and wellness across businesses in the UAE.