Work-From-Home, A Short-Term or A Long-Term Productivity Solution?

by Vernon M. Oro

Posted on 2020-09-01



According to the 2018 study by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Philippine losses daily an estimated USD3.5B due to traffic congestion in Metro Manila. If there is no intervention to be made, the estimated loss in 2035 will be USD5.4B daily. Try to imagine that in 1 month? Believe it or not, that is more than our 2020 National Budget of P4.1T. The Build-Build-Build Program of our current government nas been a good long-term intervention not just to address this problem, but it will fuel our economy to grow and compete in the global market. But at least, we need to allocate P1T peoples tax money to fund it every year.


If you are an employee working in Metro Manila area whether you are using the public transport or your own private car, you are most likely contributing to this loss by at least 3 to 4 hours every day of counter-productivity.


The Philippine government for the past 2 years seeks to provide the employees an option to work from home, allowing employees of private and public organizations to avoid the costs and hassles of the worsening traffic condition in the urban areas.


Unexpectedly the COVID-19 Pandemic has caught everyone unprepared. It is not just crippled our economic life, even most of the industries whether large or small, our country, and even the world economy is continuing to plunge. There was a situation that everybody needs to stop and to hide. But as human nature, we need to survive. We need to keep on going. We need to work, so at least we can have food on our table.


This Pandemic has greatly challenged how businesses operate and to let the displaced workers continue to work as usual. To help businesses remains operational during this difficult situation, management needs creativity on how to let their employees continue to be somehow productive. This calls for a flexibility to implement and consider the Work-From-Home scheme. The truth is this concept is quite difficult to practice in the Filipino culture. Well, there are still a lot of business managers and employees has the “Cat & Mouse” mentality… “When the cat is away, the mouse will play.” It could be the trust, or the maturity to perform without to be watched, is any, or both are the reasons why this scheme is unpopular in the Philippine settings.


Way back in March 26, 2019 which is a year before the COVID-19 Community Quarantine was mandated by our government, Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III has signed the DO 202-19 as the IRR of RA 11165 otherwise known as the Telecommuting Act. DOLE Department Order 202-19 Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 11165 otherwise known as tahe ”Telecommuting Act”

What is “Telecommuting”? In Section 2, par. (b), it refers to a work arrangement that allows the employee in the private sector to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies. In Section 3, it explained further the Telecommuting Program and the guidelines on how to effectively implement it.

With the positive contributions of the growing industries of the BPO’s and other services related industries highly dependent on technologies, it contributed as well to the worsening traffic conditions in the metropolis areas. That could be one of the justifications of our government to initiate the Telecommuting Act. Try to imagine if at least 25% of the employees of these industries will adapt this program? Somehow, it will help our traffic condition. Well, that was the situation last year when nobody knows COVID-19. It could be because of the traditional Filipino working culture that is why nobody want to pilot it? I think business managers have one thing in common about it… “How to check & validate their employee’s productivity?” Realistically, the question on the productivity is more important than the issue of worsening traffic condition. That is why it is an unpopular solution which makes this initiative slept.


But last March 16, 2020 there was an unexpected situation never happened in our times which forced everyone to stop and hide. We know the obvious consequence if we will not do it. By just stopping, hiding and do nothing, well… our businesses will collapse, and our economy will be dying soon. This is what the common Juan dela Cruz is crying for… “We might not die caused by COVID-19, but we will die due to hunger.” Literally speaking, that will be a slow and painful death which is more worse.

The government is somehow quick enough to see the potential impact of the Pandemic in our economy. On March 4, 2020, the Labor Advisory No. 9 Series of 2020 was signed as the Guidelines on the Implementation of Flexible Work Arrangement as Remedial Measure due to the Ongoing Outbreak of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).


DOLE Labor Advisory No. 09-20 Guidelines on the Implementation of Flexible Work Arrangements as Remedial Measure due to the Ongoing Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)


The Purpose of this Guideline (Section 1) is, in view of the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19 worldwide and its impact on the country’s business and economy, this Advisory is being issued to assist and guide the employers and employees in the implementation of various flexible work arrangements as alternative coping mechanism and remedial measures. The adoption of flexible work arrangement is considered as better alternatives than outright termination of the services of the employees or the total closure of the establishment.


The Concept of this Guideline (Section 2) is, Flexible work arrangement refer to alternative arrangements or schedules other than traditional or standard workhours, workdays, and workweek. In the following Sections of this Guidelines also explain the various flexible work arrangements options or suggestions, how to do the administration, its official posting & notices, and monitoring and enforcement to ensure compliance.


This unpopular concept becomes now somehow the most practical option by most businesses to at least to start moving and to survive. During difficult economic crisis, to survive is the best thing to happen.

When the COVID-19 Pandemic will end is still uncertain. Though we could see somehow the hope to have the vaccine before the end of this year in advance countries, but in our country the earliest estimate could be one year from now. Waiting and doing nothing will also worsen our situation. Instead, business owners and managers will better consider the Work-From-Home scheme.

The question of employee productivity with this scheme is actually the challenge for every business manager to think creative method on how to ensure the employees to deliver at least the expected output. Well, at least this is not a national economic challenge, but an individual business management challenge.


Employees productivity cannot be measure without data. You need a tool to capture and analyze this data. N-Pax has the technology solutions to help businesses to capture and analyze the data that can measures the employee’s productivity.


  • HRC Mobile Timekeeping System – It is a tool using the employee Smart Phone, Tablets/Pads, Laptop/Desktop via browser to capture the employee attendance logs anywhere (ex. Residence). It has the feature to capture the employee location via GPS technology.


  • HRC Man-Hour System – it is a tool to define the employee activity task, MH allocations, and task schedules whether it is project-based activity or day-to-day activity. Management can compare the actual MH vs Plan MH.


  • HRC BI Data Analytics – It is a tool to extract data from the HRC System to produce data visualization, data demographics, Data Trends which will be useful for management for strategic business solutions.


John Maxwell, the author of the book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, says that Leadership is Influence, Leadership is Trust, and Leadership is Respect. You cannot influence your people to follow you unless they will not trust and respect you. They will not trust you unless you will not respect them. They will not respect you unless you will not trust them. Your people will start to do good when they see your good leadership. Productivity starts and continue to flourish when leadership starts and continue to flourishalso.

Is Work-From-Home a short-term solution? No doubt, it is Yes! Simply because it will help both the businesses and the employees to start productivity and at least to survive during this Pandemic.

Is Work-From-Home could be a long-term solution? Some business managers who are still skeptical, may safely say, “Let me see on what the other will say who adopt it after a certain period of time.” Let us try to look instead on some of the positive impacts of this scheme:


  1. If the employee will no longer need to spend 2-4 hours travel time daily going to office and back home, so no more stress due to traffic jammed.
  2. If the travel hours lost can be converted instead for additional productivity time, so more output.
  3. If the travel hours lost can be converted to more quality time with family, employee will be happier and more encourage to work harder.
  4. If less employees will travel, so less car in the street means less traffic.
  5. If less employees will come into the office, so less electricity and other utilities will be consumed.
  6. If less employees need to come in the office, so company might need only to rent smaller office space with cheaper rental fee.
  7. If leaders start to trust their members, they will start to develop to be a leader.
  8. If managers will start to be creative on how to make business-as-usual in the new normal, new creative business strategies will immerse that will make the business more competitive.
  9. If employees can work from their home, hiring good talents will not be limited anymore in metropolis areas, but it can be everywhere.
  10. A business will save more cost due to less operational related expenses, at the end of the year, businesses will not just survive, it will be more profitable.


So far, I can imagine at least 10 obvious benefits of the Work-From-Home scheme. I am pretty sure, there will be more positive impacts that will not just become the New Normal, but the New Best Practices.
Is Work-From-Home could be a long term-term productivity solution? I prefer to give it a shot. So, for me it is YES!