EMPLOYEES from the private sector lauded the passage of the telecommuting or work-from-home law, saying this can boost productivity and allow them to use their time wisely.
For Victor Anthony Silva, corporate communicator of a power company, the new law is a “win-win development” for both employees and employers. He said the law allows employees to get things done right away, as it saves them from the long commute going to work due to the traffic congestion.
“I’m really glad that the work-from-home bill was signed into law. The daily commute to and from the office amid the worsening traffic situation in the city really affects the well-being of workers. With this new law, private workers will get a chance to work from home and not to worry about traveling to the office and still get the same benefits as their traditional counterparts. It’s a win-win development,” Silva said.
Metro Cebu loses at least P1.1 billion a day due to traffic congestion, according to the initial study of the Japan International Cooperation Agency reported in April 2018.
In past interviews, business owner Philip Tan, who is also the past president of the Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urged business owners to take advantage of social media to connect with their employees and customers to save time and cost. Tan said that if transactions could be coursed through the Internet, it would benefit his employees.
“Right now, we are investing in technology-based transactions to go online... to talk to our customers and to plan everything. Opportunity loss in traffic cannot aggregate in numbers. Let’s get our acts together and move forward,” he said.
While she is already enjoying a flexible working schedule, Maria Lourdes Mozo, marketing communications manager of a real estate company, said the new law is fitting in today’s business environment, which requires employees and companies to be agile.
“I work for a company where we have flexible working hours, and this has been beneficial to me as an employee. I’m not aware as to how many companies in Cebu are practicing the same, but I believe that with many digital platforms available, it should make it easier for employers and their employees to communicate,” said Mozo.
She, however, emphasized the need to have clear policies to protect both parties.
“While the intention of the work-from-home law is good, there should be clear-cut rules and regulations to protect the rights of the employees, while also protecting the interest of the business,” she said.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law on Dec. 20 the Republic Act 11165, the act institutionalizing telecommuting as an alternative work arrangement for employees in the private sector.
Under the law, telecommuting is defined as the work arrangement that allows an employee in the private sector to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.
For Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Alegria Limjoco, companies that lack office space stand to benefit from this flexible working strategy.
“Even before the law (was passed), other companies have been practicing it. This is not compulsory and not applicable to all,” she said in a text message.
This, however, is not without risk. Limjoco cited poor Internet connections and potential for data breaches as some issues that could come up with such an arrangement.
Wilfredo Sa-a Jr., managing director of the Cebu IT-BPM Organization (Cib.O), said the work-from-home law is a good development, and is a reflection of technology’s power in influencing or changing the way business is done.
He identified the availability of a reliable internet connection, data security and conducive workplace at home as critical factors that would affect the decision- making of employers and employees.
According to Sa-a, industries that don’t need physical interaction with colleagues and customers will be most suited for this arrangement. He cited outsourced services as an example. Moreover, Sa-a said the new law may help ease up traffic conditions and improve employee productivity.
Moreover, the work-from-home law is also seen to drive the growth of co-working spaces.
“The work- from-home law will definitely have an impact on flexible workspace. More will be encouraged to work from home, and lease out seats in co-working spaces. As a result, developers in Manila and provinces will be encouraged to provide more flexible workspaces,” said Joey Roi Bondoc, research manager at Colliers International Philippines.
Private companies may offer a telecommuting program to its employees on a voluntary basis, and upon terms and conditions that the employee and employer may mutually agree upon, provided that minimum labor standards set by law are observed and include compensable work hours, minimum number of work hours, overtime, rest days, and entitlement to leave benefits.