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Remote work new reality for many in the sultanate

2 Apr 2020

As the coronavirus extends its tentacles, working from home is the new reality for many in Oman as both public institutions and private sector companies are closing their doors to curb the spread of infection.

The Supreme Committee has announced measures to combat the coronavirus and directed the government agencies to make sure all staff work from home except those whose presence is a must in offices while advising the private sector to carry out ‘Work-From-Home’ mechanism.

For some employees that Muscat Daily spoke to the biggest challenge is communication among staff members. In addition, as schools and colleges are also shut down, working parents have to juggle work and family priorities. “While at work, we communicate directly with our fellow workers and it ends there. You ask a question and respond immediately but when at home, I have to be on both social media and attend to calls every other minute. So basically, I end up spending more time on the phone than the laptop itself making working hours longer than usual,” said Ali al Balushi, a government employee.

Others said managing both work and home affairs is a task. “It is very challenging for most of us who have families. Lucky are those, who have grown-ups at home. Unlike them, I have young children at home who make it difficult for me to work. To them, it feels good that I am now at home full-time but handling them is not easy. As I concentrate on my work, they come and seek attention. Sometimes it’s fun but I get agitated too,” said Samya al Naamani, a private sector employee.

However, to take care of communication issues, Tariq Hilal al Barwani, an IT expert and founder of Knowledge Oman, said people can work better from home, thanks to technology. “I am connected at work virtually and remotely and as a result business goes on as usual yet in an effective manner while I am at home. My children continue their education virtually, using Microsoft and Google technologies,” he said.
He added, “I am also able to communicate and work with the Knowledge Oman team via group chats and emails, where our work for the community is intact. All this is possible, thanks to the information and communication technology, that is making our world not just digital yet enabled too!”

Jeff Youssef, partner, Public Sector at Oliver Wyman, management consultancy, said remote working could be adopted more widely in the economic recovery period and even on a sustained basis, as it provides cost efficiencies to businesses in terms of office space and greater time efficiency, removing commuting time. “These cost benefits will help fundamentally soften the impact of the pandemic on businesses when the economic upturn begins.”

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