‘Work-at-home boosts productivity, generates savings for companies’

LOCAL businesses are encouraged to adopt the telecommuting practices as this newly approved law has positive impacts on businesses and employees, a top official of an auditing firm said.

Maria Victoria Espano, chairperson and chief executive officer of P&A Grant Thornton, said the telecommuting arrangement is one way employers can attract and retain premier talent, reduce overhead expenses and increase productivity.

“Many workers welcome this development as it eliminates travel time and costs, which have significantly increased due to the worsening traffic conditions in major cities in the country,” she said.

This new law, known as the Telecommuting Act, signed in December 2018 can be offered to employees on a voluntary basis.

“While it has been practiced by businesses in the Philippines, it is mostly adopted by multinational companies and, thus, employees are hopeful that local businesses will follow suit,” said Espano.

One of the benefits of the telecommuting practice is the enhanced recruitment and retention of employees.

“I have increasingly heard comments from some executives that they have actually crossed out job opportunities that will require more than an hour’s commute. By offering a work from home arrangement, employers may be able to entice good potential candidates to join them,” said Espano.

“On the other hand, for existing employees, eliminating the daily commute will keep them happy enough to stay with an employer for the long term. It allows workers greater control over their work hours and work location,” she added.

Telecommuting also results in savings.

According to Espano, telecommuting saves employers money in office expenses, such as office supplies, furniture, equipment, coffee and janitorial services.

On the other hand, for employees, telecommuting allows people to save on expenses such as fuel, parking fees, vehicle maintenance, public transport fare, dining out and clothing purchases.

But because this program is offered on a voluntary basis, Espano advised employers to carefully assess whether a telecommuting arrangement is suitable for its operations.

Espano said employers and employees must consider both the pros and cons of the arrangement and appropriately plan for it.

“There are several considerations that must be taken into account and appropriate planning must be made to address them before introducing the practice,” she said.

She pointed out the importance of investing in technology for work-at-home employees to remain productive at their work. She also warned employers of making sure that office information is secured and heavily guarded.

“If telecommuting is allowed, the company must address the risks,” said Espano, referring to situations wherein employees may need to bring out with them company files.

“While they are not in the office, companies must still be able to supervise their work to ensure that their deliverables are timely submitted and the expected quality of output is adequately met. A system of monitoring and reporting must, thus, be established,” she said.

While considered a welcome development, Espano advised local businesses may adopt this practice for smaller groups first for them to determine if the program results in a win-win situation.

“For a start, it may be good for them to begin with a small group of employees, measure productivity, and then roll out on a larger scale when ready,” she added. (KOC)


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