UAE residents talk about work-life balance

Many of them voluntarily work even during vacations owing to work pressure and commitment to job

20:00 August 19, 2017

Umakanth Devarajan, 49, Indian, works in the contracting industry

He spends a minimum of one hour a day and sometimes works up to two hours during his vacations. Devarajan, who works in a contracting company in Abu Dhabi, said that he still attends to work during vacations. “I check my incoming mail, and then delegate work,” he said. But delegation is not also always possible

However, this isn’t always the case. Devarajan said that he sometimes has to check documents himself because it’s his area of expertise.

The extra work is not a job requirement and his bosses don’t push him to do it but as the head of his department, he feels the responsibility to ensure that things don’t go out of control while he’s away.

As a director working in the field of education in Abu Dhabi, Al Shamsi said that she doesn’t often work during her vacation. She only does if there is a new project or important meeting to attend. She mainly responds to emails and reads reports.

When she does work during her off time, it can take up between an hour to five hours of her time, despite the fact that she does it voluntarily. As an educator she has a lot of passion for her work and wants to make sure that her team always meets its objectives.

However, she added, “It is important during holidays to separate oneself from any job-related tasks or activities. It is the time to refresh and recharge our energy to be able to resume work with enthusiasm and motivation.”

Grace Morales, 41, Filipino, academic advisor

Grace Morales, an advisor at a university in Sharjah, has plenty of work to attend to even during her vacation. She said that she spends a minimum of two hours a day making sure she answers all her emails so they don’t pile up.

“Since I’m expected to do my work in a timely fashion, I am compelled to work while on vacation,” she said. In fact, even on regular days, she voluntarily works for an extra hour or two, though she would like to spend more time with her sons instead.

She however advises people to separate work from holiday, and emphasised the importance of unwinding and relaxing during off hours. Sometimes, when people work even during vacations, they could be sending the message to their office that they are happy to do so, she said.

Balqees Basalom, Saudi, 22, journalism and event management

Basalom said she used to take work along on vacations in some cases, like when there was a new task and she did not have time to finish it before proceeding on leave. She also replies to all work emails, she said.

“I did this voluntarily at first, then my direct manager took advantage of it and sometimes would ask me to do tasks while I’m on vacation,” she said.

Now she doesn’t take work along on holiday anymore because she feels it would spoil her holiday. She now logs off her email on her phone, exits all company group chats or puts them on the silent, and turns off the company phone.

Alex Malouf, British, working in marketing communications

“I’m fortunate to be able to spend a good deal of time working from home, which allows me to spend more time with family. I have a young daughter and me and my wife want to spend as much time with her as possible. I put in about 60 hours a week, but that can vary based on the projects I’m working on. A happy work-life is important. Some people are able to completely disengage from work when they’re home, and from home when they’re at work. Finding contentment and satisfaction at work will help us be better people when we’re at home. It also helps us to switch off and recharge.”