The option of flexible working hours or remote working can have a positive impact.
A great incentive to improve the morale of the employees, reducing stress, less absenteeism and increase in productivity at their work.
In the current world a new norm is forming ever since the pandemic hit us. Many of the old rules in the workplace had changed after the pandemic brought a new perspective in the way we work from home to flexible working hours.
Pre-pandemic in many of the organisations in both public and private sector the working hours were fixed from 7:30 or 8 am to 3 or 5 pm in some of private companies and 7:30 am to 2 pm for the public sector.
Only a handful of companies had introduced flexible working hours.
For example, an employee can start work early and leave early or start late and leave late i.e. timing slots of 7 to 8:30 am to 2:15 to 3:45 pm the employee had to ensure to complete their full working hours.
As the effects of the pandemic ravaged the world and as we were forced to change in many ways including human forms of communication changed to digital interactions through applications such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom reducing the face-to-face interactions.
Like the rest of the world, the Sultanate of Oman managed to control the pandemic by following the direction of the supreme committee by allowing the employers to introduce flexible working conditions in order to insure business continuity and other guidelines to safeguard the country’s economy.
Now 2023, post-pandemic the country has moved and the pandemic outbreak has been controlled. Naturally life is almost back to normal and so is the regular working hours and requirement to be present at the workplace. But it seems the new norms are taking effect again, during the holy month of Ramadhan.
The Ministry of Labour has announced the working hours to be reduced to 6 hours per day for both the administrative of civil state and the private sector.
A great initiative was the announcement of flexible working hours for the administration of civil state employees. The official working hours are from 9 am to 2 pm, but the head of departments may determine the hours of attendance and departure that suit the work according to the following times: 7 am to 12 pm, 8 am to 1 pm, 9 am to 2 pm and 10 am to 3 pm.
Further, working remotely was also introduced for the nature of work which allows it. To follow suit, some private sector companies also introduced flexible working hours to aid the employees to reach work and in reducing the traffic during the peak hours.
The decision has met with great response as the flexible working hours has brought a lot of positivity. As many wish this to continue after Ramadhan and are now calling for flexible working hours to stay and which is seen as a morale booster.
The flexible working hours gives the employees the option to choose and plan outside their work life and an additional bonus which helps to ease the traffic during peak hours
Flexible working options are seen as a new norm and a way forward which can prove a win-win for both employers and employees.
Saif al Shaibany
The writer is a banker by day and a storyteller by night