Dubai authorities are exploring how much remote work and flexible schedules could help reduce traffic congestion in the emirate.

Private sector employees were invited to take part in a survey measuring the potential of working from home to take cars off the roads.

The Dubai Statistics Center sent an email asking workers to participate in the study, organized in partnership with the emirate’s Roads and Transport Authority.

“The RTA is conducting a study to understand the current situation of the private sector in relation to flexible work schedules and remote work in order to expand the implementation of the aforementioned practices given their impact on reducing traffic congestion, especially during peak hours,” the email read said.

“Data collected will be confidential and used only for the purposes of the study.”

Flexible plan gains support

Florian Kriechbaumer, 35, who works as chief operating officer of a Dubai-based technology company, said The National who received the email earlier this month and participated in the survey.

“It may make a lot of sense to financially incentivize or incentivize public or private sector entities to adjust their policies in a way that reduces or distributes concentrated rush hour traffic,” he said.

“(It could also) provide some flexibility in office work hours and could encourage carpooling or similar ideas.”

People who take the survey are asked a series of questions including “does your company offer flexible work schedules?”

Other questions relate to current remote work options and whether an employer offers flexible office hours.

Kriechbaumer said there could be a temptation to simply build more roads and parking to meet the demands created by increased traffic.

“We also need to further improve public transportation service in high-density communities on the outskirts of traffic corridors and build communities with more integrated work-life options to reduce the need for longer commutes,” he said.

Minister adopts new way of working

Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for Digital Economy, HAVE and Remote Work System, has highlighted the need to update labor practices to support the development of the nation.

“Remote working is now a primary way of working and not an option… and we in the UAE must move from using remote working methods as a trend to using them as a competitive and quality advantage that improves quality of life of UAE residents and visitors,” said Mr Al Olama during the Remote Forum in Dubai in March.

Nearly half, or about 46 percent, of workers in the UAE work remotely in some capacity, Al Olama said, citing figures from British research firm YouGov.

New approach to traffic management

The RTA is stepping up efforts to expand its road network to help meet the needs of Dubai’s booming population that surpassed 3.5 million in April last year, driven by a surge in post-pandemic migration.

Dubai Statistics Center living population counter stood at more than 3.63 million on Friday.

Earlier this month, the transport authority revealed details of a Dh689 million renovation of Hessa Street aimed at reducing congestion, reducing travel times and increasing safety on one of the emirate’s busiest routes.

The motorists who spoke with The National They said they supported the survey and hoped to see new regulations to reduce congestion and travel times on their daily commute, especially to and from Dubai.

Marwan Abdulqader, 39, who lives in Sharjah, spends an hour each day getting to work in Dubai.

“Having flexible working hours in private sector companies could help reduce traffic. With rapid urbanization and population growth in Dubai and Sharjah, traffic congestion has become a major problem, resulting in long commutes,” said Mr Abdulqader.

“Dubai always thinks outside the box and having remote working and flexible working hours will reduce travel time during peak hours.”

Zaid Nasser, a 42-year-old Yemeni living in Dubai, said the survey could lead to solutions to mitigate traffic challenges and improve employee well-being.

“Dubai has traffic congestion schedules as employees go to work at the same time in the morning and return home in the evening. Changing the start of the work window will reduce traffic,” Nasser said.

“Dubai has many events that attract many visitors from all over the world and this also causes traffic jams. I hope officials find solutions based on the study.”

The RTA and the Dubai Statistics Center have been contacted for comment.

Updated: October 20, 2023 at 9:05 am