In January, employees everywhere rejoiced as President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law that provided a concrete set of rules and regulations for companies to allow their workers to work from home.
Some saw it as a sign that more companies are set to provide flexible working conditions. What most missed, however, is that the law's institutionalization of the work from home scheme is only monumental to people who already enjoy it. The measure does not have enough teeth to compel more private firms to offer a similar program. As stated in Republic Act 11165, also known as "An Act Institutionalizing Telecommuting as an Alternative Work Arrangement for Employees in the Private Sector," the program is on a "voluntary basis."
But with or without the law, a recent labor study may sway more companies to adapt to the times. According to the latest International Workplace Group (IWG) Global Workplace Survey, nine out of 10 Filipinos prefer to work for a company that offers flexible working arrangements over a job that didn't, since more than half the respondents see commuting as the "worst time of the day."
IWG Global Workplace Survey defined flexible working arrangement as the opportunity to let employees choose and change workplace locations.
While the government has infrastructure projects in the pipeline that are seen to alleviate the worsening traffic situation in the country, especially in Metro Manila, it seems it will be employers who will have to shoulder the cost of Filipino commuters' growing frustration with the transportation system for now.
In the study, 58 percent of the Filipinos surveyed believe that their time spent commuting to the office should be counted as work hours. That only seems logical for a Filipino worker who faces snaking queues to catch a train ride or for those who pay astronomical costs for a cab ride daily. With these challenges, talents are starting to demand and expect employers to be flexible enough to ensure their well-being.
Unfortunately, old habits die hard. Many local businesses are struggling to adopt this modern workplace policy, especially firms "with a long-standing, non-flexible working approach." Six out of 10 Filipinos say "organizational culture" is the biggest barrier in the implementation of the work from home scheme.
"Our research shows that businesses that haven't already considered the financial and strategic benefits of flexible workspace need to do so now. Otherwise, they face being seen as out of touch, both with their competitors and with the demands of the modern workforce on what constitutes a great day at work, which means losing out on the best talent," IWG's Lars Wittig said in a statement.
The IWG Global Workplace Survey was conducted in January 2019 with 15,000 participants from a range of professions. This year's version is the 10th edition of the survey. IWG, previously known as Regus, is a global workspace company.