Different groups in the UAE are expressing their endorsement for the country's four to five-day work week, labeling it a 'progressive strategy' and emphasizing the need to move away from the outdated notion that longer hours lead to greater productivity. This discussion was sparked by Greece's recent announcement of a six-day work week starting in July. HR professionals, wellness experts, and residents all highlight that today's workforce values authenticity, mental health, and the smart use of technology to increase productivity and personal well-being. Will more countries adopt this approach? Recently, radio shows and social media in the UAE have been buzzing with debates on whether more nations might implement shorter work weeks.

Zaid Alhiali, Co-Founder of Marc Ellis, commented to Khaleej Times: 'The shift to a six-day workweek in Greece contrasts with the four-day week in Sharjah, UAE, and Germany's trial of a similar model. It's unclear if Greece's approach will gain global traction due to varying cultural and economic factors.' He emphasized the importance of recognizing that different regions have distinct work habits, suggesting that what works in one country may not work in another. 'I believe shorter work weeks can enhance well-being, focus, and job satisfaction. However, the main challenge will be maintaining productivity,' he noted. A Gallup study in June 2022 revealed that those working six days a week had the highest rates of burnout and the lowest levels of well-being, while those working five days showed the highest engagement and lowest burnout rates.

Girish Hemnani, a Dubai-based Life Coach and Energy Healer, stated, 'Sharjah is leading a transformative approach that could set a global trend. This change addresses key factors reshaping traditional work models established during the Industrial Revolution. The pandemic has fundamentally altered our views on work and workplace dynamics, emphasizing the importance of flexibility and remote work.' He also mentioned the increasing use of AI in the workplace to improve efficiency and save time. 'Gen Z champions authenticity, mental health, and the effective use of technology to boost productivity and personal well-being. They are not just future workers but soon-to-be leaders who prioritize meaningful and balanced work lives. The focus here is on working smarter, not harder,' he added. Hemnani stressed that the world is experiencing a significant cultural shift in the workplace that values autonomy and challenges the old requirement for constant physical presence to measure commitment or productivity.

Meanwhile, some expatriates in the UAE said they would not live in a country that mandates a six-day work week. Egyptian expat Eman Hussein, a PR professional living in the UAE for 20 years, commented, 'I think the world is moving towards a better work-life balance. Even in the UAE, we've seen Sharjah implementing this, and they've been evaluating the results. Moving to a six-day work week might not be effective and could even backfire. Personally, I would never choose to live in a place where I have to prioritize work over family and personal care.' Residents emphasized that maintaining good mental health is crucial in today's high-stress environment, where balancing work and personal life is not just a luxury but a necessity for enhanced productivity.

Indian expat Bhavya Rao noted, 'High stress levels can reduce productivity, which is harmful to individuals, businesses, and nations. The better option depends on the specific context of the organization and its employees. For many modern workplaces, the four or five-day work week is gaining popularity due to its potential to boost productivity and improve employee mental health and overall well-being.' Notably, Germany has also started testing a four-day week with a pilot project involving 45 companies that began in February. 'I would prefer at least two days off for more rest and personal time, which can lead to better job satisfaction. Studies show that employees can be more productive during shorter work weeks, focusing better during work hours. A better work-life balance can lead to higher retention rates and attract talent. Fewer commutes can also reduce traffic jams and carbon emissions,' she added.