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More than half (51%) of employees in Saudi Arabia have reported an increased workload since switching to remote working

According to a recent Kaspersky survey of 4,303 IT workers, 51% of employees in Saudi Arabia have reported an increased workload since switching to remote working, with 18% describing the increase as significant. 35% did not notice a change in volume, and only 9% noted a decrease in the scope of work due to new working conditions.

In 2020, the digitalization of employee interactions was one of the most accelerated changes. However, at the beginning of lockdown, 82% of managers were concerned that the rapid transfer to telework would lead to a decrease in productivity and 69% of workers claimed that remote work negatively affected their emotional state. As we near the end of the second year of the pandemic, we believe now is a good time to reassess the implications of remote working for those in the IT sector.

Even though the survey reveals that more than a half of employees experienced an increase in workload, 58% of those surveyed do not feel any more exhausted at the end of a remote day. Indeed, 41% reported having more energy working from home, and 17% did not notice a difference between the two formats.

When it comes to emotional stability, the remote format was well-received by employees: 53% report feeling more comfortable working remotely or have not noticed an increase in anxiety due to overtime, while 37% of respondents even felt more comfortable working from home.

But at the same time, the percentage of workers who felt uncomfortable at being distanced from their colleagues was still quite significant, with 42% of respondents saying they felt more tired and 47% reporting they had more anxiety working from home.

One solution that is proving popular among employees is the hybrid working model. This format is highly favored among the workforce, with almost half of employees (30%) switching to hybrid working by mid-2021.

Another welcome solution is to implement corporate wellbeing practices. The good news is that many businesses are rising to the challenge to seek ways to help manage potential burnout. Indeed, 93% of firms are investing in training courses to improve core skills, such as management and timekeeping (43%). Companies are also offering perks, such as additional paid time off or annual leave (38%), and providing online wellbeing consultations and courses (40%). However, the report indicates there is still work to be done to mitigate the increased burden of work among remote workers. Only 52% of firms have undertaken at least one practical measure, such as automation of security operations or hiring additional staff to tackle employee burnout.

 “Today, the wellbeing of employees is the focus of many organizations. Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all solution’ when it comes to developing a wellbeing program as its success depends on the needs of all employees. Such programs can include psychological help and mindfulness practices, fitness programs, and legal and financial consultation services to help employees cope with negative life situations. It is, however, crucial to create a culture that makes it comfortable for employees to talk about their emotional state or problems with their managers or HR business partners,” commentsMarina Alekseeva, Chief Human Resources Officer at Kaspersky. “At Kaspersky, we are proud to have built such a culture. Last year we introduced pulse surveys to assess how our employees feel and how we can help them. We have also implemented various wellness, fitness and psychological support services and created a dedicated platform for digital relaxation: Cyber Spa helps both our employees and external audiences relax and take breaks during their busy days,”

As the needs of employees evolve, so too should the strategies for leading them. Kaspersky and  Global Centre for Healthy Workplaces share the following advice for organizations:

  • Employers need to tackle the underlying issues of burnout in a systematic way, not just workload but also the balance of control/demand, management practices, predictability, social support, redistribution of work, etc. These factors need to be assessed and managed throughout.
  • Use a mix of surveys and indicators to ensure a consistent and effective approach towards employee wellbeing, e.g. engagement survey, psychosocial risk assessment, wellbeing survey, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) utilization, sick leave, stress survey, burnout inventory.
  • If circumstances of your business allow, be flexible and open to various work practices. Hybrid formats can provide the flexibility needed by today’s workforce whilst ensuring a focus on delivering results
  • Educate employees to use basic security practices when working remotely, such as how to avoid becoming a victim of email or web phishing, or how to manage accounts and passwords. Kaspersky and Area9 Lyceum have created a free course to help staff work safely from home
  • Help employees manage their digital wellbeing. Today, as we use technology more, it is important to keep the right balance. Kaspersky has partnered with Neil Tranter, a mindfulness teacher, to develop a dedicated meditation course: “Overcoming digital stress and smartphone addiction”. The course also includes a special bonus lesson dedicated to the challenges of remote working, aimed at helping people develop healthy work habits and a better work-life balance.

The full report and more advice on employee wellbeing are available via the link.

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