The Hidden Cost of Work From Home: Who Should Pay?
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, workers and employers alike are still adjusting to the New Normal realities. Work from home is no longer a stop gap but is now fast becoming a long-term arrangement.
Even the Philippine government has taken steps to conform to the new ways of working, as the Senate seeks to strengthen the Republic Act No. 1165 or the Telecommuting Act. In filing Senate Bill No. 1448, the new bill aims to make telecommuting a mandatory offer for employees who are still able to perform their function even while working at home.
What can employers and employees do to survive these new challenges in the long-term?
On social media, JobStreet recently conducted two polls related to the costs of work from home, directed towards employees.
Majority of the poll-takers answered that they were not receiving any allowance or reimbursements from their company during the quarantine period.
Overall, there is a sentiment on social media that employers should be able to provide for the costs of work from home set up. Examples of these work-from-home costs are internet fees, call and text charges, etc.
On the other side of the coin, many employers face a hard road to recovery. As of July 2020, 26% of Philippine businesses have closed, according to the Department of Trade and Industry. Big or small companies alike are looking at tough challenges on how to weather the pandemic. News of layoffs and retrenchments prevail on social media and chat groups, with most of the employees worried about their job security. Most business owners are struggling to manage cash flow and stay afloat during the pandemic.
What's the current scenario amongst companies? Here are some thoughts from noted Philippine HR practitioners, on how the work-from-home situation should be looked at. Read the entire discussion thread from our partner HR Shouts and Whispers.
“I'm leaning towards no. If you're still working from home, I would assume there will be more savings since you don't eat out, don't shop, and you can have more control of your own time. Yes, the cost of electricity and internet is also taken into equation, but you're just transferring the expense of you reporting to work at the office to what you need to pay for while working from home.” - Lorenz Aimee
“Conditional yes, to time-bound allowance types backed by memo telling them what it's for and how long…. Our rationale was that never has the company shouldered transport to the office and back-home. It was a form of "ayuda" only for those who risk commuting in the wee hours.” - Benjamin Caruncho III
According to General Manager and HR expert Tina Khoe Ang, a pragmatic, long-term vision must be exercised. "Companies should be careful to spend money nowadays… Conserve money, so that you can conserve the ship. Spend wisely," she shares. "Best to save the extra allowance for emergency funds and take care of staff if they contract COVID-19."
"A compromise must also be reached between the company and employer," says Cristina Estacio, a noted HR mentor. Extra expenses are expected to add up, and companies need to be wise up on how they can manage the cash flow. "The thing is, there seems to be no end to the pandemic in the Philippines. And therefore, prudence is required."
Everyone is going through a tough time while in the COVID-19 pandemic. But for better or worse, work has to continue operating. The real challenge is how to balance the survival of the company but remaining compassionate to employees' situations.
To successfully navigate the crisis, diligently practicing consideration and empathy are essential. Employers must prudently provide whatever is crucial for their workers, and whatever that companies cannot give, they must be able to communicate the reasons well to their employees.
In turn, employees must also endeavor to share the burden with their company, by finding ways to be more efficient and productive at work. Being transparent goes both ways for both employees and candidates.
Several companies serve as hope and inspiration for their respective industries as they were able to provide WFH benefits to employees during the pandemic.
|How they are helping employees work from home
|Incenter Solutions LLC Philippine Branch Office
|Canva Solutions Inc.
|Stefanini Philippines, Inc
|Supporting Enterprises Inc. (Cebu)
|Majorel Philippines Corp.
|Reed Elsevier Shared Services Philippines Inc.
|Payreto Services Inc.
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