ECN MENA CEO Roundtable

By Robert Willock, MENA Director

The ECN in Dubai continued its series of CEO roundtables this week with a session on the regional talent landscape.

For these events we invite 15 ECN primary members to discuss in depth topics that matter to business leaders with the help of some subject-matter experts.

In this instance, our thought leaders and discussion starters were: Randa Bessiso, Director of The University of Manchester Middle East Centre; Marketa Simkova

Partner and Head of People & Change at KPMG Lower Gulf; and Rebecca Ford, Partner & Co-Head MEA Employment Practice at Clyde & Co.

We covered a lot of ground in areas relating to the world of work during the pandemic, including: employee engagement and productivity; staff burnout and mental health risks; reskilling and lifelong learning; workforce planning; office design; task automation; and the potential for offshoring of support functions, particularly from the UAE to places where the costs of living and employment are lower, but where academic and vocational education are sufficient.

Clearly, from the testimonies provided, companies and their staff have had very different experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic, and its impact on working patterns and practices has differed, according to the sector in which they operate. But almost all businesses are having to deal with a wide range of expectations from their workforce about a return to normal, once social distancing restrictions are fully lifted. And very few anticipate going back to the way things were ‘BC’, either in terms of job flexibility and homeworking, use of office space, requirements for business travel etc. I plan to summarise all the key discussion points from this fascinating debate in a post-event report in due course. Watch this space!