Flex from 1st: Amna Salim on first-hand experiences of flexible working over the last year

Amna Salim, Head of Client Relations, PwC’s Academy. 

Amna Salim is Head of Client relations at PwC's Academy the talent and Skills development business of PwC Middle East. A young working mother, a client facing professional, and a team leader who leads by example, Amna has benefited greatly from a flexible working culture at her organisation. Here’s her story!

How do you think attitudes to flexible working have changed over the last year? 

Flexible working has been on the agendas of MNCs for a while, especially given the millennial focus on work-life balance. Whether it was adjusted work hours to suit personal commitments or going for the part-time work options, employees needed to choose what helps them become more productive. This needed a mindset change in organisations to practically make it happen. And thanks to the pandemic, it has! 

Flexibility now means working from home, customized work hours and working remotely across locations for the majority. And the acceptance that face time does not necessarily indicate productivity. 

How have you benefited personally from flexible working (eg flexible start and end times, working from home, working the same hours in fewer days) over the last year? 

I am one of the lucky ones who works in an organisation that is employee oriented and output driven. Way before the pandemic, I used the flexibility provided at work in 2018 during my maternity leave and in my transition back to work after that. My team at PwC’s Academy, managers and senior management were very supportive and understanding of the needs of working mothers and enabled a smooth transition for me. 

This attitude really helped us when the pandemic hit as well and made the transition to work from home much easier. We are essentially an office-based organisation and in my role client face time is critical, so I choose my days and hours in a way that enables productivity. I do believe that if companies are more output-focused and they trust their employees to get the job done, then flexibility is an obvious step in the process. 

What do you think the future of flexible working looks like post pandemic? 

We are now in the age of the New Normal. Flexibility is now here to stay; in one form or another. The pandemic has also brought in its wake some benefits - the main ones are: 

-        Technological advancements – employees are embracing technology at a faster rate than ever before and dependency on it during the pandemic has been essential. Through this, communication has been more efficient and inclusive. 

-        Office space – The need for human connections will always remain, in my opinion. But the concept of working space has evolved. The focus will now be on more collaborative ways that will allow individuals to be creative and innovative. 

PwC’s Remote Work Survey conducted in June 2020 found that 69% financial services organisations expect almost two-thirds of their workforce to be working from home once a week in the future. This trend will continue in my opinion. In this new age of working, we will strike a new balance between WFH (Work from Home) and WFO (Work from Office) in a way that enhances performance and satisfaction levels.  

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