In January 2022, the United Arab Emirates officially adopted a 4.5-day week for its public sector and schools. (I wrote about the change here.) Private-sector companies were not required to change as well, but apparently a fair number have done so, to suit the schedules of parents, and because government offices are closed on Friday afternoons.

Sharjah moved straight to a 4-day week, and six months later reported that traffic accidents were down 40%, and surveys reported that employee productivity had gone up. One of the companies in Sharjah that changed its working hours to follow the government was the Sharjah National Oil Corporation (SNOC). Employees there were given the option of continuing to work a regular workweek, or to do a compressed week of four 10-hour days, or four 9-hour days and a 4-hour Friday.

Recently, two SNOC executives, Fatima Muhammad Shafique and Mohammed Al Haddi, wrote about the impact of compressed on employee morale and work-life balance. From the abstract:

Since UAE has adopted a shorter workweek since the new year -2022, to align with global markets, many organizations have had to implement measures to adhere to this change. Sharjah National Oil Corporation has decided to provide their employees with multiples flexible weekend options to choose based on their convenience. A survey was conducted on the options provided to employees, for their feedback and effectiveness of this new change.

The employees had been provided with 3 flexible weekend options containing all details regarding working hours, work schedule, effect on leave entitlement etc. These options were circulated to all employees, and a meeting was conducted to address any questions on the options provided. Employees adopted the new options and a survey was conducted to evaluate the Effectiveness of the new weekend policy and its impact on business and team performance after the 3-month mark….

87% of employees have agreed that there has been no negative impact on their “personal” work productivity and 74% of employees have agreed there is no negative impact on “team” productivity due to the weekend change. Only 7% of employees agreed that the new weekend policy caused disruptions in day-to-day communications with colleagues and 6% agreed there was a negative effect on communication with vendors and other business entities.

Overall majority of employees have been positively impacted with the changes and agreed that the flexible options have provided them with more work life balance and has not impacted their work productivity.