Microsoft has released its Work Reworked study for 2020, which has found that almost all (97 percent) of business leaders in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) believe that their organisations will adopt a more hybrid way of working for the foreseeable future.

Commissioned by Microsoft and carried out by the Boston Consulting Group and KRC Research, this year’s Work Reworked Report aims to support business leaders across the Middle East and Africa who are navigating a new world of remote work.

Since the start of the at-home work experience earlier this year, researchers have found that managers and employees in the UAE expect to spend just under half (42 percent) of the work week outside of the traditional office setting.

A more permanent change around ways of working is already evident, with a healthy majority (83 percent) of companies now having a set remote work policy in place. The research found that 82 percent reported equal or increased productivity with remote working, and a vast majority see it as a powerful way to help retain their best workers. Most Emirati business leaders (76 percent) also reported additional cost benefits such as a reduction in spend on business travel.

However, remote work is not without its challenges. Research has found that many people feel disconnected from their teams, driving team cohesion is not as easy as before and more work is being done in silos. In fact, 61 percent of managers in the UAE said they had trouble creating a strong team culture.

“Being social is a big part of what it means to be human and the traditional office setting helped fulfil that need to interact with others daily. In this new world of hybrid work, it will be vital for organisations to recreate social moments like the morning coffee catch ups in the office kitchen to help maintain bonds between colleagues,” says Mohammed Arif Business Group Director, Modern Workplace and Security, Microsoft UAE. “As an example, Together mode in Teams makes meetings more engaging by placing them in a shared background and by showing participants’ faces and body language, making it easier to pick up on the non-verbal cues that are so important to human interaction. “

The Work Reworked study is timely during a period where new industry solutions are enabling organizations with inclusive digital transformation for all their employees. Fostering collaboration, online solutions such as Microsoft Teams are helping people and organisations to stay connected and engaged, ensuring fluid communication. Industry leaders are now navigating a new world of work, empowered by hundreds of new features and capabilities designed to reimagine work for the future.

Microsoft’s Work Reworked research provides insight into how companies can best support and empower workers as remote and hybrid working becomes the ‘new normal’. A survey of 611 leaders and employees in large enterprises within the UAE examined people’s experience since the beginning of the pandemic as remote ways of working became common, and also asked about expectations around the future.

As work continues to evolve in the new normal, organizations across the UAE are adapting to new ways to empower employees, engage customers, optimize operations and transform products and services. At the 40th GITEX Technology week this year, Microsoft showcased an array of innovations and collaboration tools, including the latest Surface devices, empowering modern, inclusive, and productive workplaces of the future.