Deloitte's 1,100 employees in UAE adopt Monday-Friday work week

03 January 2022 3 min. read

Professional services firm Deloitte has followed the lead of the UAE government in announcing its local office will switch to a Monday-to-Friday working week.

In line with wider moves taking place across the country, the UAE branch of professional services firm Deloitte has effective today transitioned to a Monday-to-Friday working week. The switch from the formerly regionally standard Friday/Saturday weekend model follows that of UAE government departments, which will introduce a four-and-a-half-day week ending at midday on Fridays – the first country to officially reduce the contemporary working week.

“The extended weekend comes as part of the UAE government’s efforts to boost work-life balance and enhance social well-being, while increasing performance to advance economic competitiveness,” said state news agency WAM.

Deloitte's 1,100 employees in UAE adopt Monday-Friday work week

“The new working week will also bring the UAE’s financial services sector into closer alignment with global real-time trading and communications-based transactions such as those driving stock markets, banks and financial institutions.”

Deloitte cited a similar set of advantages in following suit – namely, the facilitation of stronger international business links and services for UAE-based multinational firms, while also noting the move would allow the accounting and consulting firm to continue to serve its local public sector clients. While Deloitte is the first of the Big Four out of the blocks, a recent survey by human capital consultancy Mercer found the majority of the private sector support the shift.

Mercer, however, stated that flexibility would remain key – a contention backed by Deloitte through the recent introduction of its Future of Talent “HybridWorks” model for its 1,000-plus local staff and those across the wider Middle East. With the aim of fostering an inclusive culture that provides fair and equal opportunities, the new policy allows for employees to better manage their own workplace presence, taking into account individual circumstances and personal preferences.

Deloitte Middle East CEO Mutasem Dajani said that these principles would continue to guide the firm as it transitioned to the new working week. “Our people’s preference to continue to have workplace flexibility is clear. ‘HybridWorks’ empowers our people to collaborate with their leaders to shape and design their working patterns, while facilitating purposeful workplace presence for ‘moments that matter’ for team collaboration, training, and client meetings.”

The UAE government’s move to align the nation with a ‘Western’ weekend has been seen by some commentators as the latest gambit in its battle for global business and talent with neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which had earlier seen the Kingdom unveil a plan to ban non locally-headquartered foreign companies from doing business with state entities by 2024. So far, all of Deloitte, PwC and KPMG have announced plans to relocate their regional headquarters to Riyadh.

The evolving work week

The altered working week also follows an earlier transition made in 2006, when the UAE shifted its weekend from Thursday and Friday to the present Friday-Saturday set-up, again to better align with global markets (prior to 1999, Friday was the only official day off).

The rest of the Gulf ultimately followed, with Oman and Saudi Arabia the last to come into line in 2013. However, the move to make Friday a workday is a far more radical proposition in the Islamic-majority region.