How flexible working options can help Qatar’s businesses
According to a recent survey conducted by Regus – a multinational provider of contract-based service offices, virtual offices, business centres, meeting and conferencing facilities – 72 percent of Middle Eastern respondents believed flexible working could boost productivity. Conducted in 95 countries, the survey incorporated responses from over 20,000 senior executives. In an interview with The Edge, Qatar’s country manager at Regus, Alina Gomotirceanu talks about the survey and the scope of flexible work options in Qatar.
Please tell us about Regus and its operations
Regus started operating in the Middle East in 2001 with the first flexible office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. We have two centres in Qatar in addition to locations in Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman and Saudi Arabia. Regus is the global workplace provider. More than 1.5 million customers a day benefit from our 1700 locations spread across almost 100 countries. Our products and services enable people to work their way whether it is from home, on the road or from an office.
The concept originated from recognising the developing trends in mobile working, as well as those seeking a better work-life balance.
What are the different types of flexible working arrangements practiced in Qatar?
The growth of the Regus network offers more opportunities for companies in Qatar to adopt flexible and remote working patterns, or to get closer to customers and key contacts. They can take on office space in the central business district without committing to a long-term lease or upfront capital investment.
Flexible and remote working practices are gaining popularity in the Middle East. In the latest Regus global business survey of over 26,000 senior business people, just under half (44 percent) respondents in the Middle East said they now work remotely for at least half the week.
Which regions allow most acceptability for flexible hours? Where does the Middle East stand?
Emerging economies, like the Middle East, are adopting the same practices as those in developed nations. More and more businesses regard flexible working as bringing further benefits, such as better and faster decision making, fostering creativity and helping to improve time management. This is an indication that growing economies have made flexible working a key part of their strategy – saving on expensive fixed office leases and helping staff become more productive.
What are the major motivations behind organisations favouring flexible working options?
Organisations are looking to retain employees for the long term, and are therefore eager to provide options that meet the requirements of work and life commitments. They want to provide facilities that enable parents to be at home when they need to without compromising on their professional responsibilities. Several organisations in this region have travel as a prerequisite and look to offer the flexibility required for this.
Which companies in Qatar are practicing flexible working options?
Companies both large and small in Qatar practice flexible working. Any business from a one-man operation to a 1000-plus personnel corporate firm can adopt this, which is why our centres are in demand. An example of this is LINKdotNET, which has grown from a two-person business to seven but remains based at our Doha Airport Road location due to the flexibility of being able to upscale overnight.
“Organisations are looking to retain employees and are eager to provide options that meet work requirements and life commitments.”
To what extent does the flexible work arrangement depend on the nature of a business?
The nature of flexible working means that any company can adopt it. The development of cloud services makes it easier than ever before for employees to log into company servers from anywhere in the world. This is why businesses from day-old start-ups to Google, Toshiba and GlaxoSmithKline all use Regus.
How do the companies ensure that their employees working from home are as focused on the jobs as those working from office?
Productivity is actually empowered by flexibility. Once employees are not confined to certain work parameters and are able to adjust to their personal commitments, productivity increases and stress levels can go down. Our recent survey also found that apart from improved productivity, 77 percent of respondents globally, think flexible working encourages a greater sense of responsibility and time management. Flexible working also improves staff productivity by speeding up decision making (64 percent) and fostering creativity (74 percent).
Profitable and useful business connections are favoured by flexible working (70 percent) as employees mix with professionals from other backgrounds and gain greater insight.
What are the services Regus provides for flexible working?
Regus provides a number of options to enable companies to work flexibly from serviced offices to business lounge access. Our key products are:
Business Packages, which can provide a top-flight business address, with telephone answering and mail forwarding, without the expense of physical workspace. So the business ‘base’ could be Qatar’s prestigious office location, but the owner could work at home, on the beach or while on holiday, with a laptop, knowing the phone is being answered.
Flexible workplaces offer a physical presence in prestigious locations, with built-in flexibility to move, upscale or downsize rapidly. Costs for staffing, maintenance and so on are all included, so budgeting is easier and there are no unexpected bills. In addition, business-ready workplaces spare SMEs from the costs (and time delays) of fitting out an office, setting up IT connections and hiring support staff, while also adhering to trade licence regulations. With less money spent on set-up, there is more to invest in the business.
Pay-as-you-use meeting rooms and Businessworld membership provide access to our business lounges, both of which allow companies to work at some of the best business locations in the world, without paying per square foot. For example, Regus’ 100-country network enables people to hire meeting space on Fifth Avenue, New York, meet a colleague in a business lounge in Geneva’s Rue du Rhone or touch down at office space in London’s Mayfair, as well as helping them expand into frontier markets