Tired of commuting to and from work every day, you’ve been monitoring updates on the work from home bill and keeping your fingers crossed. Finally, President Rodrigo Duterte has signed the telecommuting bill into law.
Sounds like good news, but is it really something to look forward to?
The Telecommuting Act (Republic Act 11165) allows private employees to work from home or any alternative workplace, making it an optional arrangement between employees and employers. It provides guidelines for protecting the rights of home-based workers in the Philippines.
If your employer will implement a work-from-home program (and it’s applicable to your industry and profession), here are some of the things you’ll stand to gain and lose.
Telecommuting Advantages in the Philippines
Proponents of the telecommuting law believe that this flexible setup will promote work-life balance and address traffic problems in the country. You’ll also enjoy these other benefits when you work from home.
Fair Treatment with Office Employees
Telecommuting isn’t a new work setup in the Philippines. In fact, a number of private companies have been implementing their own work-from-home programs prior to the signing of the telecommuting law.
What makes the Telecommuting Act different, though, is its legal safeguards to ensure that home-based workers receive the same treatment as that of office-based workers in the same company.
This means telecommuters are entitled to the same benefits enjoyed by those working in the office:
- Equal pay
- Paid leaves
- Overtime and night shift differential pay
- Rest periods such as regular holidays and special non-working holidays
- Other government-mandated benefits
- Same amount of workload
- Same performance standards
- Access to career growth opportunities, including promotion
- Access to training
Healthier Eating Habits
As an office worker, your limited time makes you too dependent on “convenience foods” like ready-to-eat foods, canned goods, and your favorite fast-food meals. Adding to the sugar and carb overload are the occasional pizza and donut treats in the office.
Such an unhealthy lifestyle can end when you work from home. Because you’ll no longer need to get ready for work and commute as often as before, you’ll have more free time to prepare healthy meals at home.
Distractions from chatty and nosy officemates, unproductive meetings, stress and exhaustion from excessive commutes, and micromanaging bosses breathing down your neck all the time—these productivity killers won’t bother you anymore when you work from home.
The flexibility of a telecommuting setup indeed makes you more efficient at work. According to the American Telecommuting Association, working from home boosts employee productivity by 10% to 15%.
Spending More Time for Things and People Who Matter
Telecommuters can save time from traveling back and forth to work (what with the horrible traffic situation in Metro Manila). More so if it takes you more than an hour to wear makeup and get dressed for work every day.
Working remotely allows you to make productive use of your time. You can perform more tasks and even get to spend more time for yourself and your loved ones.
Less Stress and Burnout
Your emotional health will get a boost when you work from home. Because you’ll be commuting less, you won’t have to arrive at the office all sweaty and haggard from exposure to pollution and the scorching heat. It will save you from the stress and hassle of daily commuting.
Studies found lower levels of stress and burnout, as well as increased happiness and creativity, among workers who enjoyed workplace flexibility.
Reduced Traffic Congestion
Among the biggest expected benefits of the work from home law in the Philippines is the reduction of vehicles on the road. Let’s just hope that its effect would be significant enough to feel the difference when traversing the usually busy roads like EDSA and C5.
Telecommuting allows you to save on a lot of expenses—fuel, parking fees, vehicle maintenance, public transport fare, lunch outs, and clothing purchases. Can you imagine how much you can save when you no longer have to spend on these things?
Lower Carbon Footprint
Working from home also enables you to do your share in reducing climate change. Less frequent commutes and business trips help lower pollution, carbon emissions, and fuel consumption.
Telecommuting Disadvantages in the Philippines
While working from home looks like a great idea, it may not work for some. Here are some challenges of telecommuting that will make you think twice about signing up for your company’s work-from-home arrangement.
Slow and Unreliable Internet Connection
Companies invest in high-speed and stable internet to ensure seamless operations. You simply don’t have enough resources for that—you’ll have to make do with the limited speed from your home broadband service provider.
If your internet connection from home is far from decent, telecommuting may bring more issues than benefits for you.
Distractions at Home
Working remotely isn’t exempt from distractions—from neighbors belting out videoke pieces and family members who assume you have a lot of free time to the temptation of checking your social media feeds every so often.
When you work from home, you need a great deal of self-discipline and the ability to focus on the tasks at hand.
Working Long Hours
Even with telecommuting, workaholics will still struggle with achieving work-life balance. The problem becomes worse when they work from home, as they get tempted to check work emails or make phone calls while having dinner or before going to bed. The flexibility of working from home makes it hard for workaholics to set work-life boundaries.
Feeling of Isolation
If you’re someone who thrives on social interactions, it’s easy to get frustrated when you work for eight hours or so and have no one to talk to. It can feel lonely and isolating, except if you love to interact with your pets more than with humans.
You’ll also be missing out on meaningful conversations with your superiors and colleagues, like learning from brainstorming sessions over lunch and words of wisdom from your experienced workmates.
The Telecommuting Act is a welcome development in the Philippines, as it provides an alternative work arrangement to address workplace issues. However, promising as it may be, employers and employees must consider both the pros and cons of adopting a work-from-home setup before implementing it.