Results revealed for designMENA work/life balance survey

Flexible hours

When looking at results for flexible working hours, 39% of respondents stated that they are free to work from home, with averages rising for parents with pre-and-school-age children, 55% of whom have the flexibility to work from home occasionally.

Some 57% of parents also said their companies allow them flexible working hours in comparison to the average of 43%. We can conclude then, based results of the survey that the industry is providing flexibility to employees with children.

Company owner Indu Varasani, who heads Dubai-based IR Design, said for employees with the kids, family comes first. However, she believes in encouraging employees to take responsibility for their time at work.

“It is up to the employee to manage the task given. Either they do it at a different hour or ask for help from the others. I leave it to the employee to choose. This is [their] responsibility,” she said.

Thorsen agreed: “Parents need to be at their children’s concerts or sports day, attend parent meetings or be at home if their child is ill. This is how work-life balance plays out. We are fortunate to have people within our group who understand this, and it’s never abused. We support this totally.”

Commenting on overall work flexibility, Choucair also added: “Allowing designers to have flexible working hours is a must, as long as they meet their deadlines.”

Guelaff, however, stated the importance of having the team altogether, as most projects rely on teamwork and shared resources.

“We tend to have more rigid hours as all team members need to be together to get certain portions of the project done,” he said.

“CAD staff who tend to be more in the office need to have a good core schedule to maintain the productivity, while designers are a bit more free-flow with their time as creativity does not have a check-in time. Therefore we are quite flexible as long as the team is on the same page.”

Working on weekends

According to the results, architects more frequently work on weekends, with 30% regularly working weekend hours, in comparison to interior designers, 14% of whom put in extra hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

Junior designers are most regularly working weekends with 89% claiming to be working regularly or occasionally over weekends, with higher management coming a close second with 82%.

When it comes to work-related evening events, 55% responded to not attending any at all, while 36% said they attend after-work functions one night a week.

Sleep and health compromise

According to a study titled Sleep Health: The Journal of the National Sleep Foundation, adults between the ages of 18 to 64 are recommended to sleep between seven to nine hours; however 55% of designers and architects said that their sleep cycle is being affected by work.

“If the work is not done, it will be finished the following day, but sleep sacrifice is not an option as it affects productivity. Health is always first,” Guelaff said of the results.

Health also appears to be compromised when it comes to illnesses, with almost half (49%) of respondents saying they feel pressure to work when feeling unwell.

These numbers rise among parents, 62% of whom responded to feeling pressured to work when ill.

One of the respondents, anonymously commenting, said: “The inconsistent hours prevent me from committing to regular after-work fitness-related activities, and I find that I’m too tired in the mornings to get up earlier.”

Another anonymous comment stated: “It is usually hard to maintain an after work routine like going to the gym and enrolling in after work classes.”

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