UAE: The Next Global Leader in Workplace Innovation?
Mokshita P.
10x Industry

UAE: The Next Global Leader in Workplace Innovation?

Survey reveals top workplaces boost performance through enhanced employee experiences and strategic locations, with UAE ranking third globally, reflecting significant progress under the Fifty Economic Plan.

The Gensler Research Institute has just released the findings from its Global Workplace Survey 2024, which gives us a fresh look at the future of the workplace. Instead of just focusing on how often employees are in the office, the survey shifts attention to workplace performance. Nowadays, a high-performing workplace isn't just about how efficiently a building operates or how well the space is used; it's about the overall experience and how the space boosts performance, ultimately benefiting the business’s bottom line.

To gather this data, Gensler surveyed over 16,000 office workers from 15 different countries and ten industries. This includes participants from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, representing the Middle East. The study looks at top performers on individual, team, and organisational levels. It highlights what makes a workplace high-performing, considering not just the office itself but also the building and neighbourhood, which also impact performance.

In the UAE, the Ministry of Economy has launched the Fifty Economic Plan to build a future-focused economy by 2030. This plan aims to boost the national economy through five key pillars: an integrated economy, support for SMEs, tourism, foreign investment, and talent retention. The World Bank's Global Economic Prospects Report 2023 shows a 20 percent increase in foreign direct investment in the UAE’s commercial real estate, highlighting the country's focus on creating a business environment that attracts and develops talent.

Janet Pogue McLaurin, Gensler's Global Director of Workplace Research, emphasises the need to redefine workplaces for the next evolution of work. She believes organisations should focus on designing spaces where people can perform their best rather than just getting them back to the office. Jose Faine, Gensler’s Workplace Design Director for the Middle East, adds that designers aim to create lasting value and impact by aligning their work with local government initiatives, as seen in projects like Riyad Bank and VISA HQ in Dubai.

According to the report, 94 percent of employees in top workplaces have choices about where they work within the office, which increases their engagement and sense of value. This year, the survey expands beyond the office to show how top workplaces function as part of a larger ecosystem of spaces, including libraries, cafes, outdoor areas, and coworking spaces.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • Top performers value the workplace for learning, networking, and socialising. In the UAE, workers are highly engaged, spending 62 percent of their time on these activities.

  • There’s a gap in the UAE between where people work and where they feel they need to be for optimal performance. Although only 49 percent work from the office, 71 percent believe being in the office is necessary for maximum productivity.

  • Exceptional workplaces offer an array of experiences and are often located in amenity-rich neighbourhoods. High-quality buildings and their locations significantly enhance workplace performance.

  • The UAE ranks third globally in workplace performance. High-performing workplaces are linked to greater employee control over their work time, higher innovation, and employee retention.

This comprehensive study by the Gensler Research Institute provides valuable insights into creating workplaces that not only function well but also enhance employee satisfaction and business performance.