70% of workers reassessing careers post-COVID-19

Expectations about office life also shifting as workers prepare for the next ‘new normal’, according to research from Robert Half UAE.

Expectations about office life also shifting as workers prepare for the next ‘new normal’

Dubai, 1 July 2020: After months of manoeuvring through the Coronavirus crisis, many employees are rethinking what’s most important when it comes to their career and future working practices, new European and UAE research1 from global staffing firm Robert Half suggests. 
Feelings towards where and how people work have definitely shifted due to the pandemic, indicating that recent weeks have indeed been a time of reflection and reprioritization: 
•    31% of survey respondents are currently reassessing their work-life balance.
•    22% are actively looking for a new role.
•    17% want to switch jobs but find the pandemic’s ongoing impacts are making them reticent. Which leaves only a minority of respondents (30%) actually satisfied with their existing role.

Despite an upswing in unemployment rates both here in the UAE – as well as regionally, the prevailing mood amongst workers is one of positivity and resilience. 
•    66% of survey respondents feel their longer-term career prospects are unaffected by COVID-19, although 53% remain concerned about losing their current job as a result of the pandemic in the short term.
•    Working from home is actually working, with the majority of employees surveyed not only working from home recently due to social distancing requirements (65%), but realizing their job offers a better work-life balance (57%) and is actually do-able from there (54%). 
•    What’s more, 80% would like to continue working from home post-COVID because they can save time and money by avoiding a daily commute (57%) and feel more productive (49%).

“The term “unprecedented times” has been used a lot over the last few months to describe the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gareth El Mettouri, Associate Director for Robert Half. “The implications of these “unprecedented times” for business owners and employees alike, however, are not only being felt now but will likely influence working practices and recruitment planning well into the future, given the strength of worker sentiment we’re seeing expressed here.”

Additional survey findings:
•    Robert Half’s European and UAE survey results mirror its recent US- and Brazil-based polls, which similarly saw 57% of US professionals and 55% of Brazilian professionals saying they have experienced a shift in their feelings toward work due to the pandemic.
•    Although 62% of those surveyed indicated that they are not worried about working in close proximity to their colleagues, European and UAE workers are also reassessing their personal space, post-COVID-19. 67% of those surveyed by Robert Half will refrain from shaking hands and an even larger number (74%) will be scheduling fewer in-person meetings moving forward.
•    Empathy abounds. 75% of survey respondents indicated they will be more prepared to support or cover for colleagues who need to be out of the office.
•    Workers expect employers to take action in response to shifting needs and attitudes. Not only does an overwhelming majority want permission to work from home more frequently post-COVID-19 (90%), they also want better in-office cleaning protocols (76%), have staggered work schedules (70%) and revised office layouts (59%).

El Mettouri adds, “While no-one knows precisely what the post-pandemic future will bring, the silver lining is that we're all discovering new ways of working together. With many businesses re-opening their offices and beginning to navigate a path back to normality – or, at least, the next “new normal”, post-pandemic – the need for companies to  evolve their flexible working policies and practices; (re)assess employees’ core skills, competencies and behaviours in response to evolving business priorities; and foster a supportive and inclusive workplace culture in order to retain and attract the best talent has arguably never been more urgent.” 


Notes to Editors
1Conducted between May 6th and June 12th, 2020, this online survey by Robert Half included responses from more than 1,000 working professionals from the UK, France, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, UAE, The Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany aged 18+ years who are normally employed in office environments.