Companies adopted work from home to promote a better quality of life for their employees, including avoiding worsening traffic conditions. Although the number of remote workers has been on the rise—especially in the United States—since the early 2000s, work from home was only starting to get a stable footing in the Philippines at the time.
When mentioned in executive meetings, everyone would agree that all parties could benefit from this set-up. And in its early days, work from home was more of a benefit for the select few.
Fast forward to today, when almost the whole world was caught unaware by the coronavirus pandemic, and what used to be an employee perk has become mandatory. Work from home is now the new normal, and it may be for a while, at least until the world puts an end to the pandemic.
What is the current work-from-home situation in the country? Below are some of the latest developments.
1. Emotional effects from enforced isolation
Human relationships thrive through personal interactions—a complete contrast with the feeling of isolation that many telecommuters may be dealing with as a result of working in their own home with only their computer in front of them.
In fact, the National Center for Mental Health has reported a rise in cases of depression-related phone calls from 80 before the lockdown to 400 per day during the pandemic.
With the most vulnerable demographic coming from the 15- to 29-year-old age group, it is but a good investment for the government and all industry sectors to look after the Filipino workers’ emotional and mental well-being.
From your end, it may be worthwhile to evaluate the practicality and safety of having your employees work a couple of days per week or month in the office. A recruitment agency in Manila is equipped to help you do the proper assessment in terms of finding the right work set-up for your company today.
2. Favors the skilled
Not all workers are adept at using a computer, online platforms, and other office tools, but these skills are a must-have in the age of telecommuting. This is an unfortunate scenario for workers who are not technologically ready, creating a need to learn and master these things or risk being left behind on the best work opportunities.
The problem is that online skills training or upskilling, while more cost-effective than physically attending a university, takes a chunk of a working person’s time. Some may have to add a couple of hours every day to gain the required skills, which only add to their workload and affect how they manage their current tasks—unless companies are willing to make adjustments to working hours.
3. Decreased overhead costs
Operating a business remotely offers several monetary benefits for companies. Instead of paying hundreds or thousands of pesos per square meter for monthly office space, you get to generate savings from lower overhead costs by relocating your employees to work at home. A company may save $2,000 on rent space by shifting completely to work from home.
Even post-pandemic, many see the mandatory work-from-home arrangement as a precedent that will induce more employers to continue with the set-up. Indeed, adopting remote work can translate to overhead real estate savings for corporations, not to mention seeing higher productivity among employees.
4. Highlighted the industries that can go all-digital
Compared with the tourism or food and beverage sectors, which took a huge hit from COVID-19, several industries have realized that their operations can go all-digital. These include advertising, marketing, app development, and online shopping, to mention a few.
The National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has added telemedicine and online education to that list, citing that the digital transformation of these sectors is a response to and in compliance with social distancing measures.
5. Work-from-home fatigue
One of the tradeoffs of work from home is being able to continue working without the danger of going to the office in a room full of people.
On the other hand, it does come with certain drawbacks, including fatigue and burnout. Employees have been reporting that it can be difficult to draw a line as to when or where their employee responsibilities begin or end since they’re surrounded by work for the most part. Many have to juggle working and doing household duties that they feel exhausted by the end of the day.
Solutions like having flexible work-from-home schedules and perhaps even deadlines may help in alleviating this challenge. Your company may also need to look at your productivity standards to ensure that they’re reasonable, considering the present circumstances.
6. Struggling with internet connection speed
A drop in download speed from 30 megabits per second (Mbps) in February to 20 Mbps in April this year suggests that the work-from-home option has stretched the allocation for countless internet users. As a result, even the largest internet service providers could not seem to cope with the sheer volume of demand for data.
This sluggishness has prompted the filing of House Resolution 1193 in Congress, aiming to find solutions to the high cost but slow performance of the internet in the country when compared to its Southeast Asian counterparts.
7. Prioritize technological investments
Transitioning to work from home means that employers would need to provide equipment to their employees to carry out their tasks at home, including laptops, tables, chairs, and internet connection allowance.
Better equipment leads to a better work environment and, in turn, results in higher quality work output—it really just makes sense. In fact, studies have found that office workers could get immediate relief from physical pain when provided with ergonomic chairs at work.
The Filipino Work-from-Home Culture: A Work in Progress
Employers and employees alike have fared quite well in making the transition to work from home, but areas for improvement still abound. Despite the challenges, everyone should probably look at it from the perspective of gratitude. With work from home, employees can be productive while paying the bills, and together with the company, contribute to economic recovery.