Flexible work arrangements gaining ground in the Philippines

Flexible work arrangements gaining ground in the Philippines

If you’ve been lamenting how much hassle it is to travel to work and deal with the nightmare traffic, the pushing crowds, the pollution, and the heat, the good news is that employers in the Philippines seem to be more open to the idea of flexible work arrangements, or FWAs.

Mary Grace Riguer, OIC-executive director of the Institute for Labor Studies, an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), said in a recent business forum that more and more employers in the Philippines have begun adopting FWAs, such practices now made more feasible by technological and telecommunications breakthroughs.

“In the Philippines there are some players already [engaging in FWAs],” confirmed Riguer, mentioning Metro Pacific Investments which implements flexi time and work from home arrangements, and Aboitiz Equity Ventures which has adopted flexi time and earlier-shift schedules.

Meralco is now also implementing telecommuting, launching its pilot last year and currently planning to expand the coverage of the program, said Paola Verayo, an HR business partner at the company, in her presentation in the same gathering.

Riguer said some fields in the services sector are a particularly good fit for FWAs.  These include industries engaged in medical health, computer and IT, marketing, communications, customer service, sales, administration, education and training, and finance.

Meanwhile, among jobs or occupations that may adapt well to FWAs are online teaching, customer support, web and software development, administration, sales and marketing, engineering, design and multimedia, mobile development, writing, accounting and bookkeeping, networking, and business services.

As long as the work or some aspects of work will be using technology, it is possible for the employee to be allowed to work from the house or anywhere outside of work premises, said Riguer.

She said forms of flexible work arrangements that are currently being applied in the country include telecommuting (working from home), telework (taking home some of your office work), virtual or freelance work (working full-time away from the workplace), and crowdsourcing (outsourcing jobs online to groups of people who operate independently).

Interest in telecommuting and other forms of flexible work practices is rising amid the terrible road congestion in Metro Manila and the growing desire of workers for a more equitable work-life balance.

A study conducted by the Japan International Coordination Agency foresees the traffic costs in Manila increasing to P6 billion a day by 2030 from P2.4 billion per day in 2015.

Last year, Senator Jose Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, filed Senate Bill No. 1033, or the Telecommuting Act of 2016, on August 16, 2016.

The bill encourages employers to allow “telecommuting” or the “partial or total substitution of computers or telecommunication technologies, or both, for the commute to work by employees.”

On January 25, said Riguer, DOLE made a representation before a Senate hearing in support of the intent of the bill, noting that by institutionalizing telecommuting, the legislation can provide protection to telecommuting employees.

She added that benefits for the government of telecommuting include reduced road traffic and pollution, while employers stand to gain from greater worker productivity, lower employee turnover, and a deeper talent pool.

Employees, on the other hand, can enjoy benefits such as reduced travel time, greater flexibility, higher autonomy, and increased work satisfaction and motivation. -RCA

Photo: Mike