The UAE’s Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications recently announced at a conference that even though “remote working was seen as a luxury in the past and a gimmick”, it may be here to stay. But, although it’s easy for companies who work in digital to operate remotely, it isn’t as simple for companies in two of the UAE’s largest sectors: financial services and oil. Here we’ll assess how well these industries are set up to allow employees to work remotely.
Working from home has allowed financial services providers to reshape how they operate. However, in restructuring business models, financial services providers must still consider how they will adapt to a range of issues. These include the automation of tasks, employee expectations around working from home and the regulatory aspects of remote working. If remote working is going to be used extensively throughout the financial services industry, more research must be done to understand how employee productivity can be boosted further.
According to a survey of over 250 global fund managers, this will likely be achieved by increasing employee flexibility, improving technology use and decreasing risk through transparency. According to the survey, global fund managers believe that companies who fully embrace technology and include it in their daily operations are poised to adapt best to the challenges caused by working from home and will come out of the other side stronger. This is because, by using technology as part of their daily operations, these businesses have been able to streamline their operations and cut costs. This has naturally led them to an increasingly virtual working environment that is highly sustainable.
As a result, it’s clear that banks, loan companies and mortgage providers all need to advance their digital structures. For example, a financial services organization that depends on manual processes and is supported by fragmented and inflexible architecture will struggle to adapt to the work of remote working. This could cause productivity issues.
By contrast, organizations with cloud capabilities will succeed. This is because these companies are able to scale their operations based on demand spikes. This means it’s simple to facilitate more loan or mortgage applications because the process can be automated. As a result, workers at banks can make informed business decisions in seconds, rather than repeating a manual process that may take hours.
Employees at the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company have adapted to working from home by embracing video technology and artificial intelligence. In fact, a recent report suggests that employees of the company logged more than 30 million minutes of video and audio meetings in just over two months.
The key to the company’s success is their drive to embrace digital technology. In 2018, the company made plans for a digital command center. Now, this system can be accessed remotely via a secured connection. This allows employees to access real-time information from home. This includes data on potential disruptions to supply and ways production can be optimized.
This system helps them overcome a key challenge facing other oil production companies: communication. Relying on existing digital tools is not enough for most oil companies, particularly because many also have reduced organizational efficiency due to the nature of working from home. After all, without a full suite of digital tools, oil companies are unable to make rapid assessments and analyze supply chains. This leaves the business vulnerable.
Due to this, oil companies must be proactive in searching for technologies that can help them improve. For example, smart glasses could help workers perform assessments on-site. Alternatively, drones could be used to collect survey data after a detonation or blasting. With the use of these technologies, someone could effectively be on-site even if they’re in a different country.
In summary, in the past year we’ve seen a shift in mentality towards working from home in the UAE. Although it’s unlikely employees in the financial services sector and the oil sector will continue to work from home on a full-time basis in the coming years, employees in both industries have proven that they can be just as productive.
However, it’s more than likely that changes to remote working policies will be on a business-by-business level, rather than an industry-by-industry level. It appears that employers who have embraced technology and implemented transformation initiatives are well-placed to navigate the challenges caused by working from home. However, companies with manual processes and inflexible architecture will likely be left behind.