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Middle East Edition
23rd September 2022
Bosses think workers do less from home, according to Microsoft survey
A major new survey from Microsoft shows that bosses and workers fundamentally disagree about productivity when working from home. The results of the survey show that while 87% of workers felt they worked as, or more efficiently, from home, 80% of managers disagreed. The survey questioned more than 20,000 staff across 11 countries. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told the BBC this tension needed to be resolved as workplaces were unlikely to ever return to pre-pandemic work habits. "We have to get past what we describe as 'productivity paranoia,' because all of the data we have shows that 80% plus of the individual people feel they're very productive - except their management thinks that they're not productive. That means there is a real disconnect in terms of the expectations and what they feel." He added that employers are having to work harder to recruit, enthuse and retain staff. That even includes Microsoft itself. "We had 70,000 people who joined Microsoft during the pandemic, they sort of saw Microsoft through the lens of the pandemic. And now when we think about the next phase, you need to re-energize them, re recruit them, help them form social connections," Mr Nadella said. Microsoft employees can work from home up to 50% of the time as standard.
Gunvor in sale talks with Abu Dhabi’s ADNOC
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) has held talks with Switzerland-headquartered Gunvor about acquiring all or part of the trading house. Earlier this year, Gunvor co-founder and chief executive Torbjorn Tornqvist said he was looking for partners to help expand the business and inject capital. ADNOC has been building  a trading business since 2018 and now has two trading divisions - ADNOC Trading, which is focused on crude trade and ADNOC Global Trading, a joint venture with Italy's Eni and Austria's OMV that is more focused on refined products.
Kuwait Airways plans to double Kuwaitization of senior roles
Kuwait Airways says it is working to Kuwaitize all senior positions in the company in the near future, reports Al-Rai daily. The carrier’s executive management is working to double the percentage of national workers during the next three years. In a statement, Kuwait Airways said a project had been signed with specialized companies to study and evaluate the salary scale and benefits for colleagues at the airline.
Saudi tourism fund to promote entrepreneurial talent
Saudi Arabia's Tourism Development Fund has signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Endeavor Network to support local and international entrepreneurs in the kingdom’s tourism sector. “The Tourism Development Fund affirms its keenness to support and empower targeted entrepreneurs, to reach the best global experiences in entrepreneurship, and to improve the tourist experience by creating tourism technologies and quality projects,” the CEO of the tourism fund, Qusai bin Abdullah Al-Fakhri, said.  Endeavor Saudi Arabia CEO Latifa Wallan explained that the company will further support businesses in the tourism sector in line with Saudi Vision 2030 goals.
ENGIE partners with Misk Foundation to train local Saudi talent
Global energy company ENGIE has announced a new partnership with MISK Foundation to support the foundation’s Job Shadowing Program in Saudi Arabia. ENGIE will pair 54 mentors with 43 high school students to provide participants with valuable work placement experience. Turki Al Shehri, ENGIE’s CEO in Saudi Arabia, said: “High school students are at an extremely critical phase in their life, and it’s pivotal to understand their capabilities and interests and guide them as they begin their professional lives.”
Staff tempted back into the office with pet perks
The BBC profiles a marketing agency that is allowing staff to bring their pets into work as a way of encouraging a return to the office. Rise at Seven executive Mia King says that rather than being a distraction, having dogs at work has actually made staff work harder because they make everyone happy, and cheery staff are more productive. "Not only do dogs bring comfort within your home, but they also help increase productivity within the workplace," she says. Meanwhile, job search engine Adzuna says that the number of adverts that highlight "in-office perks" has now more than doubled since before the start of the pandemic. The incentives range from free exercise and language classes to complementary food and subsidised childcare.
Auditors concerned by 'perfect storm' of risks
An annual report published by the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors warns that cyber security, recruitment and retention, the cost of living crisis, looming recession and climate change are creating a “perfect storm” of global economic risks. The body’s Risk in Focus 2023 report, which was produced in association with 13 other institutes across Europe, also points to the war in Ukraine, rising global energy prices and soaring inflation, as well as growing tensions between the West and China, as threats. Urging businesses to act quickly to mitigate these risks, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors John Wood, said: "The research highlights the perfect storm of high-impact interlocking risks now being faced by businesses, throwing many into a permanent state of crisis."
German employers will soon have to monitor staff working hours
Germany’s Federal Labour Court (BAG) recently said that local employers should be recording the working hours of all staff. The court’s decision brings into force a 2019 ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which stated that employers in EU member states should be implementing systems to record how many hours per week employees were working, to protect them from excessive working hours and unpaid overtime. Until now, this hadn’t been brought into law by Germany’s government. Labour law specialist Dr. Michael Fuhlrott says the ruling means that the German Occupational Health and Safety Act must now be interpreted in such a way that it includes an obligation to record working hours: “In other words, the obligation applies directly, to every company with immediate effect.” But he observes that in the absence of a written law, it’s not clear exactly how the new rules will be enforced.  “There is currently a high degree of uncertainty as to how the ruling is to be understood. We will have to wait for the court’s exact reasoning. In view of this current lack of clarity, companies should first wait for the exact reasoning behind the decision and then consider how to respond to it,” Dr. Fuhlrott said.
Glovo fined for not formally hiring riders
Delivery Hero’s Spanish business Glovo has been fined by Spain’s labour ministry for violating a law which requires food delivery companies to formally hire riders. Unidentified sources said the fine was €79m ($78m), according to a report on local radio station Cadena SER. In 2021, Spain passed legislation requiring that riders for food delivery platforms be employees, not freelancers, and signed to formal labour contracts.
China sends regulators to Hong Kong to assist US audit inspection
Beijing has sent a team of regulatory officials to Hong Kong to assist the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) with onsite audit inspections involving Chinese companies, as part of a landmark deal between the two countries. A China-US agreement last month allows US regulators, for the first time, to inspect China-based accounting firms that audit New York-listed companies.
Better work-life balance for bankers could be another ‘mommy track’
The FT’s Brooke Masters is sceptical about Citigroup’s new hub in the Spanish city of Málaga for junior investment bankers who fret about work-life balance. Participants could be stigmatised as “unserious.”
Number of millionaires expected to grow 40% by 2026
The number of millionaires globally will grow by 40% in the next five years, and by 2026, there will be more than 87.5 million people with at least $1m in wealth, up from 62.5 million in 2021, according to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report 2022. The number of dollar millionaires will grow faster in emerging economies, the lender’s forecasts show. The 500 richest people in the world have lost $1.4 trillion in cumulative fortune in the first half of the year, but Credit Suisse anticipates a fast recovery, especially for developing markets, and it expects China to continue creating massive wealth even as its economy shows signs of strain amid Covid lockdowns and regulatory crackdowns. “Despite the inflation and Russia-Ukraine war setbacks, we believe that total global wealth will continue to grow,” the report said. “We expect household wealth in China to continue to catch up with the United States, advancing the equivalent of 14 U.S. years between 2021 and 2026.” Credit Suisse forecasts private fortunes will grow 36% to $169 trillion by 2026, with wealth per adult climbing 28% globally and surpassing $100,000 in 2024. The number of ultra-high net-worth individuals, or those with more than $50m, will reach 385,000, the report says.

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