The guidelines cover staff capacities and social distancing rules…

Are you a work-from-home devotee, or someone who’s craving the buzz of office life? Since late March, the majority of the UAE’s ‘non-essential’ staff have been working remotely, as the country fights the Covid-19 pandemic.

Now, as UAE workers slowly begin to return to their desks, the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) has issued new guidelines and precautionary measures for UAE offices and workplaces, including extra measures for certain sectors.

Only low-risk individuals can return to the office at this stage – although ADDED notes that those “who can effectively do their jobs remotely to continue to work from home”.

When you do make it back to your desk, it may not feel like ‘business as usual’. The 30 per cent attendance cap is still in place, and workplaces must abide by strict social distancing rules, keeping a space of two metres between people.

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Eligible workers

  • people aged 18 to 55
  • live alone or with other low-risk individuals
  • do not have any chronic diseases

Ineligible workers

  • pregnant women
  • people over the age of 55
  • anyone who lives with a high-risk individual (aged 60-plus or with chronic disease)

Additionally, employers in Abu Dhabi must accommodate parents who choose to work from home while schools are closed.

Dubai Economy also updated its workplace and office guidelines last week. The directive maintains a 30 per cent ceiling on staffing and occupancy, and a daily maximum of six hours during Ramadan. Normal operating hours can resume after Ramadan.

Staff pantries in Dubai had been closed, but can now be used for the consumption of food and drinks, so long as two metres’ social distancing is followed, and disposable utensils are used.

The workspace beyond Covid-19

According to the Dubai Future Foundation, working remotely may become the new norm in the UAE – if not full-time, then perhaps one to two days per week.

In a report titled “Life After COVID-19: Workspaces”, the foundation looks at the growing trend of working remotely, saying “it is set to be the new norm for the foreseeable future, with employers developing more flexible ways to conduct work. This will lead to a more agile, human-centred, inclusive system…”

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