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How the work from home setup amid the pandemic has affected employees and companies │ GMA News Online


Some 85% of Filipino office workers were forcefully shifted to a work from home (WFH) setup since the start of the pandemic, says a study by SEEK Asia, Boston Consulting Group, and The Network.

An episode of Need To Know tackled how the WFH setup affected both the employees and companies in the Philippines amid the pandemic.

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Both the parties, the employers and its workers have been forced to improvise just to continue operation. And according to Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Prof. Jonathan De La Cerna who studied this type of work setup even before the pandemic, “the internet really paved the way for the kind of work-from-home set up that we know now.”

“Wherein really people especially those we call, we call them intelligent workers if I’m not mistaken. These are really the type of workers who are really doing things in the computer, who are also doing services too,” he added.

Employees who shifted to a WFH setup made big adjustments in their own homes to accommodate having an office space for work.

At first, it may seem that the WFH setup is workable and favorable to commuters who endure long lines and traffic in Metro Manila.

It was also easy to think that it would give you more time to be spent with family.

But two years on and the question remains: Have employees become more productive with the WFH setup?

In a previous interview with GMA News Online, clinical psychologist Jade Ibhar Cuambot said most people who adapted to the WFH setup amid the pandemic have experienced fatigue due to the invisible boundary between work and home.

Since the start of the health crisis, many professionals brought their jobs in the comfort of their homes, a place that used to be for relaxation, which they now associate with work and stress.

The workplace has seen some complications too with workers taking on the WFH setup. According to De La Cerna, the WFH has lessened the “serendipitous interactions” that often happen in the office. “Sometimes of these interactions can trigger bright ideas,” he said.

“Meron ring mga hindi mo talaga pwedeng kunin for these kinds of vitual setup compared to a face-to-face setup o yung traditional na work setup,” he added.

According to the Need to Know report, those in the coworking and staff leasing industries in the Philippines believe this is the future workplace.

Tracy Ignacio, a COO of a local coworking and staff leasing firm, said the WFH setup is the most major change in a work setup since the World War II.

“Medyo matindi talaga ‘yung change given that, you cannot thrive in an environment na full back to the office. Talagang companies have adapted to this situation wherein they allow a certain flexibility to employees,” she said.

But WFH is not a new concept, especially to those in the BPO industries (business processing outsourcing) and like most things, it simply evolved due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These days, workation (work plus vacation) has started gaining popularity, with workers doing their jobs from the beach, up on the mountains, inside cafes, and pretty much anywhere with available resources for their jobs.

“This kind of alternative is very good because people have more control of whether where they work so that’s why you all have those cafés, those workplaces, these techno nomads, digital nomads that you see in Thailand,” De La Cerna said.

“Some people would prefer to work from another place because there is still para bang control, there is still a segregation na iba ito. Iba itong physical space na ito. This is for work, this is not a place where I dine, a place where I sleep and all those things put together,” he added.

According to an Airbnb press release, Q3 of 2021 saw more than 85% of long-term stays booked in the Philippines were for stays in urban destinations.

Some of the top most searched destinations for long-term stays in the country include Metro Manila, Metro Cebu and Baguio.

Additionally it says that “the share of Airbnb long-term stay bookers who used their stays to lead a nomadic lifestyle grew from 2020 to 2021—from 9% to 12%.”

In the Philippines, 45% of Filipinos polled want to rent out their homes and travel.

Due to the possibilities of different working conditions, there has been a demand from employees for more flexibility, giving birth to what is now called the hybrid work setup.

This setup gives employees the choice to work in their physical office, from home, or from a vacation place.

The report said the hybrid work setup can give employees the option to work for a week in the office or a week remotely, depending on the condition and the agreed arrangement.

The report pointed to studies saying the hybrid work setup is the most appropriate during this time because it gives the employees the chance to have a social interaction with their colleagues especially when they need to air out work-related concerns.

Aside from this, the report said this is effective for working moms with small children who need to be supervised.

The hybrid work setup  is most especially recommended in our country since some workers have a problem with internet connectivity and space for work.

A survey of the Development Academy of the Philippines showed majority of Filipinos working remotely were highly effective in their work.

Still, De La Cerna issued a reminder: “We have to remember that WFH setup does not apply to all kinds of industry. Basically hindi rin siya nag-a-apply sa all kinds of jobs and there are also socio demographic characteristics or factors wherein the work from home set up could really be effective.” 

Given this, Ignacio said employers who cannot adapt to the remote work setup given the nature of their work have to reassure their workers of a safe environment to do their jobs.

“Ang magagawa na lang ng mga employers para sa mga tao nila na ganun, e siguraduhin na talagang may safe environment sila kung saan pwede sila magtrabaho,” she said. — LA, GMA News

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