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Coronavirus: How UAE firms are splitting shifts, working from home

 

In line with government directives on social distancing and remote working, most private and government sector organisations in Dubai have begun working remotely from home as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Dubai Economy on Wednesday directed all private companies and commercial establishment to adhere to implementing remote-work system for 80 per cent of their employee from Wednesday (March 25) to April 9, 2020.

Maan Kaassamani, founder and general manager of experiential marketing concept and design company Spinworx said: "We have split the team in groups based on tasks and deliverables. Each group has their own online web channel using the app Microsoft Teams helping them connect on a daily basis. The software also has a very user friendly and organized project manager format that can delegate tasks and responsibilities along with reminder notifications.

Kaassamani, who runs a small company with around 20 employees, said senior managers are able to enter each channel and monitor which employee is online doing the work, including chat with team members as a group or individuals.

"Conference calls/video are also arranged to kickstart the day. Only senior managers are allowed to go to the office, and only if any important or legal documents require to be attended or actioned," he added.

Lauding the government's work-from-home initiative, Bharat Bhatia, CEO of Conares, the second largest steel manufacturer in the region, said: "We appreciate and have implemented the Dubai government's work-from-home directive for the private sector since Tuesday, March 24, 2020. About 90 per cent of our sales and administration staff are working from their homes. We, at Conares, are responsible for the safety, wellness and health of our people. That is our strength. Currently, we see absolutely no problems with our operations by implementing this step."

"Adapting remote working initiative is a matter of keeping firm discipline with our employees to conduct conversations with our clients. Conares team members are working with clients most of the time over the phone, in addition to visiting clients as and when needed. But in current scenario, the clients are also working from their homes," he added.

Esam Al Mazroei, Vice Chairman of Bahri & Mazroei Group, said that seeing the way Covid-19 is spreading, the company had anticipated the possibility of work from home for their staff and had therefore put in place the distant control mechanisms related to it.

"We have managed to get more than 80 per cent of our task force working from home since last week on a trial basis and made it mandatory as per the government instruction. Our Investments in cloud-based IT solutions, combined to mobile communication platforms allowed us to keep operations smoothly for all the back office, sales, support, technical and management functions."

He added: "All our employees are able to report to their managers remotely through our mobile and IT communication platforms, joining conference calls and using video conferencing tools. The efficiency of this way of communications allowed our teams and customers to save valuable time of commuting around the city. We trust that this way of working may very well be used in the future after this difficult time is over."

Echoing the same, Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of Danube Group, said: "As we all know that desperate times call for desperate measures and that is why we had allowed 90 per cent of our employees to work from home a week ago, resorting to Microsoft Teams, video conferencing tools, and other IT tools that are designed to deliver outstanding results, leaving our productivity intact." He further added, "Let us keep our fingers crossed and hope that the efforts that we are putting in, keep everyone safe."

Government staff

The Community Development Authority (CDA) in Dubai had announced the launch of a remote work policy almost a week back. The authority allowed its employees to perform their official tasks from their residences and ensure the continuity of operations, in view of the ongoing circumstances.

Ahmad Julfar, Director General of the CDA, stated that the authority's implementation of the remote work system, with the integration of advanced technology that ensures uninterrupted workflow, is a global practice that contributes to guaranteeing a healthy balance between the employees' personal and professional lives.

He added: "The adoption of the remote work system, which has been developed using modern technologies, ensures employees' seamless communication with their colleagues and supervisors, and enables them to attend virtual meetings, exchange documents and follow up on tasks smoothly."

Announcing compliance with the directives, Emirates Post Group said it recently hosted its first remote board meeting to discuss ongoing efforts to combat Covid-19. In line with government directives on social distancing and remote working, the meeting discussed ongoing efforts by the organisation to contain the spread of the virus while limiting the level of disruption to services for the people of the UAE.

Smart Employee application to support remote work for govt employees

Smart Dubai recently launched the Smart Employee application to offer support for remote work systems, noting that the app provides a wide range of effective solutions that Dubai Government employees can access remotely.

The application is accessible to 71 government entities in the Emirate of Dubai, and used by as many as 52,000 employees.

Smart Employee offers a long list of services, including: Applying for and enquiring about annual leave; requesting certificates; making purchases; punching in and out for the workday (in lieu of using fingerprint scanners); attendance and authorisation records; accessing information about the salary, including salary certificates; exploring the team hierarchy; searching for and contacting employees; and several other day-to-day tasks that can be completed quicker and solely through the application. The Smart Employee app is available for download through the App Store and Google Play.

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