The Future of Work in the Middle East

Mohammed Amer, Vice President and Regional Manager at Xerox MEA, discusses the changing work environment and what that means for printing companies such as Xerox, and how are the IT decision-makers approaching this new work model.

“The reality of work will change, and the way of work must change. The world after coronavirus needs different preparations,” said His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai during a virtual UAE Cabinet meeting.

Mohammed Amer, Vice President and Regional Manager at Xerox MEA

There’s no doubt that the pandemic has changed the way we work. As His Highness highlights the impact on Dubai’s office culture and widespread use of hybrid working practices are here for the foreseeable future. While the global remote working experiment continues, businesses are reviewing IT budget spend, prioritizing investments in cloud-based software, remote IT support and collaboration software to better support employees. Government is on the case too, launching a ‘remote work’ system for public sector employees in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

But that’s not to say that office life as we know it has disappeared forever. The hybrid work model will likely continue to evolve, spanning the office and remote working.

To better understand the changing working environment, Xerox conducted its first Future of Work survey, to uncover how IT decision-makers are supporting hybrid working and how businesses plan to move forward as the world begins to reopen. We learned that while there is increased confidence in remote working, 82% of business decision-makers surveyed expect to be back in the office within 12-18 months.

In fact, 95% of respondents indicated that in-person, face to face communications was somewhat or a vital cornerstone of work-life as well as supporting talent management. The biggest themes we’ve heard emerge are that people miss their co-workers and the ease of collaborating in person.

And of course, there are the logistical issues, working from home arrangements require a private area to work, a decent chair and good lighting. Not every living space is as easy to work in as offices are. The full working set up in office such as multiple monitors, access to scanners, printers etc. is challenging to fully replicate at home. On average, 92% of respondents miss their printers and their ease of use, smaller companies especially rely on them as an essential part of everyday work life.

The path forward

For smart businesses to survive and thrive, they need to keep up with the rate of change, anticipate new ways of working and account for personal connection.

The rapid transition to remote work was difficult for most businesses and revealed technology gaps. To mitigate future disruptions, companies need to invest in new technologies and seek added capability from existing tools to accelerate digitization.

Our survey revealed that businesses are seeking to invest in increased collaboration tools, automate workflows and support employee productivity regardless of their physical location. Coupled with advanced cloud-based solutions connecting teams and improving speed and agility to work together, we’ll see employees better supported to focus on high-value work, no matter their location.

Our current discussions with customers revolve around the rise of the hybrid worker, prominence of employee health and safety and increased collaboration. We’re having conversations with businesses of all sizes about digitizing data, securing it in the cloud and automating workflows.

And as we return to the office, we’ll see the rise of touchless technologies. We are supporting customers in their return-to-office plans. This includes touchless technologies that allow employees to use printers with minimal or no direct physical contact and other solutions that help customer’s social distancing efforts in the work environment.

In a COVID-impacted world, technological investments and advancements and understanding how people connect are a necessity for a hybrid working model. Yes, it’s challenging, but this year we’ve learnt to flex and navigate uncertain times. The modern workplace will balance the best of both worlds.