Experts draw attention to perks of remote work, flexible hours

AMMAN — Calls for the wider acceptance of remote work and flexible working hours have grown louder amongst the public as well as economic experts, as they believe that such structures can expand both the size and diversity of Jordan’s labour force.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to operate remotely, which provoked profound societal changes and also altered employees’ perspective on working hours. 

“Flexible working hours have been found to positively affect productivity, workplace satisfaction and contribute to reductions in cases of absenteeism, attrition, tardiness and the use of sick leave,” Economist Wajdi Makhamreh told The Jordan Times. 

The adoption of flexible working hours has been made possible due to advancements in information and communication technologies (ICT), said Makhamreh. 

“Connectivity allows for remote meetings and collaboration,” he added. 

Knowledge-based services allow service providers to deliver outcomes regardless of time and location, “which can accelerate the adoption of remote or flexible work”, he said. 

According to Makhamreh, flexible working hours contribute to reducing operating expenses in the private sector. 

“It will also reduce the economic costs of transportation as well as traffic congestion,” he added.

As for Economist Hussam Ayesh, flexible working hours will contribute to more diversified economic growth.

Ayesh added that diversified economic growth can be accomplished through the encouragement of a geographically decentralised labour force, or a “larger, more accessible, diverse and equitable labour force”. 

“Flexible working hours lead to improved talent acquisition, employee morale and overall productivity,” Ayesh said, adding that remote and flexible working saves time, effort and transportation costs for employees. 

“It also promotes work-life balance,” Ayesh said. 

However, Ayesh conceded that flexible working hours will negatively impact the office atmosphere and reduce interactions between employees. 

“Flexible working hours can be a positive management approach for both employees and employers if managed properly,” Ayesh said.

Director of Jordan Labour Watch Ahmad Awad told The Jordan Times that promoting wider acceptance and adoption of flexible, remote work will maximise aggregate social welfare. 

Awad added that remote work has the potential to allow growth to be geographically smoother and more harmonious. 

“Women, single parents, people with disabilities and the elderly will have the chance to enter the labour force and remain in the labour force,” said Awad.  

“Allowing those with limited mobility to work remotely, and at their own pace, strengthens their incentive to seek employment,” Awad added. 

Furthermore, flexible work can decrease the importance of inner-city relocation and to some degree weaken the pull factors of urban areas, Awad said.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Basha, 29, is a Jordanian who lives 90 minutes away from his workplace. Basha spends over JD100 monthly on transportation. 

“I literally arrive to work exhausted,” Basha told The Jordan Times. 

According to Basha, productivity has nothing to do with being physically present at the workplace, but rather “depends on employees’ willingness to work”. 

From an environmental perspective, Basha believes that the “wasting” of gas daily on roundtrip drives to work is only harming the environment. 

Maha Habaybeh is a mother who has the time to work, but can’t physically show up to a workplace every day, as she doesn’t have the means to register her three-year-old toddler in a daycare facility. 

“Those who want to work must have more control over how, when, where and how much they want to work,” Habaybeh told The Jordan Times. 

Remote work and flexible work hours encourage women to seek employment, which increases the prevalence of dual-income families, she added.

“Household spending power will be multiplied, therefore increasing the [household] budget for education and healthcare,” Habaybeh said.

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The Jordan Times