DOH: Keep work-from-home setup
The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday encouraged employers to opt for work-from-home setup or other alternative tasking arrangements that would reduce the opportunities for the spread of the coronavirus.
Such work setup will eliminate close contact among employees and other people interacting with an establishment. This is going to be “critical especially during this period of exponential increase” in COVID-19 cases, according to the DOH.
Since the pandemic hit the country in early 2020, private companies and government offices have adopted various arrangements and even physical alterations in offices to restrict contact among employees and between staff and clients.
Still others have opted for a “hybrid” work setup, or a mix of on-site and work-from-home arrangements.
Many have installed physical barriers and some have gone to the extreme of temporarily shutting down, all to curb or stop infections.
Along with the Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Trade and Industry, the DOH also reminded public and private sector employers to firmly enforce minimum public health standards (MPHS)—hand-washing, mask-wearing and physical distancing, plus getting vaccinated and improving airflow in offices and shops.
There should also be strict inspection of proof of vaccination within the premises or places of business where this is required, the DOH said.
Bike or walk
The health department said employers should assign and designate health safety officers to remind employees working on-site of the MPHS and to monitor and track symptoms.
Employers should also ensure proper ventilation and close down pantries or areas where staff could gather without masks.
The DOH strongly encouraged employers to coordinate with the epidemiological and surveillance units of local governments for specific response and reporting guidance.
Promoting the use of bicycles or walking to the office would also help employees avoid exposure in crowded places, the health department said.
Even with growing confidence in COVID-19 vaccines, businesses that have the option to implement nontraditional forms of work arrangements are encouraged to adopt the hybrid work setup, according to various market studies.
Forced to be flexible
In its third quarter 2021 survey, property consulting firm Colliers said that 34 percent of companies that were polled expected at least half of their workforce to return to office in 2022 and the other half to work remotely. It said that 31 percent wanted all their employees to work on-site this year.
Investing in a hybrid work environment is among the three key strategies that businesses must prioritize to ensure future growth, the market researcher Euromonitor International said in its latest report, “Understanding Corporate Trends: Voice of the Industry 2021.” The other two areas are safety and technology.
In a series of surveys conducted among professionals from 15 industries across the globe, Euromonitor found that employers were forced to “rethink their attitudes to flexible working” as remote work has become the norm rather than a temporary fix.
Professionals permanently shifting to some form of work-from-home setup rose by 20 percent from 2020 to 2021.
A country survey in October 2021 by headhunting and recruitment agency Robert Walters Philippines found employees qualified for middle- to senior-level management positions were likely to turn down a job offer that required them to report full time in the office.
Fifty-two percent of these professionals were likely to decline a full-time job, while only 20 percent said they would most probably not turn down the opportunity, Robert Walters said.
Among government workers, alternative work arrangements “had positive effects on [their] perceived performance and productivity,” according to an online survey and a focus group discussion conducted among 2,756 civil servants by the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP).
But an alternative working model “comes with additional personal costs,” as the majority of nonmanagerial employees were using their own computers and internet connections to get their work done, the DAP said.
It said the physical environment also affects productivity because those who work from home “get easily distracted by personal matters such as household chores and child care.”
A 2020 study on gender-responsive work-from-home scheme in a post-enhanced community quarantine scenario done by the Department of Science and Technology’s National Research Council of the Philippines showed that majority of the women no longer prefer such arrangement due to “stronger blurring of work time and home time divide, exposure to a range of vulnerabilities, and multiple burden.” —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH
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