If you were considering moving to Metro Manila to find work before the pandemic, chances are, you won’t even need to move to find the career you were looking for. A much wider selection of Metro Manila jobs no longer require applicants to be physically present in the office, a trend that’s likely to continue past the pandemic.
WFH arrangements are not a new development. Creative workers like copywriters and graphic designers have had that option sometimes available to them for about a century. Software developers, IT professionals, and customer service agents were also occasionally allowed to work remotely in the decades before the pandemic.
The global pandemic, however, has seen work from home (WFH) arrangements transform from a luxury given to selected employees, to a necessity. Even though the technology and infrastructure to allow more WFH arrangements have existed for about two decades, Filipino businesses were hesitant to jump onto the trend wholesale, usually citing the need for more collaborative company culture.
However, a year into the WFH experiment, it seems that these fears of losing collaborativeness were mostly unfounded. Many employers experienced a host of benefits from the shift to WFH, which means they are likely to continue having employees work from home, either on a part-time or full-time basis. Here are some of the ways Filipino businesses benefited from WFH arrangements.
1.) Increased Productivity
This is, perhaps, the biggest reason WFH arrangements are likely to continue past the pandemic. After all, more productivity per employee tends to mean more revenue. Who wouldn’t want that?
People who work from home tend to be more productive than they would be at the office. This has been shown in multiple studies even before the pandemic. While many business owners and managers were long aware of this, it was not until many were forced to implement WFH arrangements because of COVID-19 that they began to truly realize the gains in productivity.
There are many reasons for this increase. One important factor is that workers are less likely to be exhausted from their commutes, which can be truly arduous in major urban centers like Metro Manila. Another is that WFH employees tend to take fewer sick leaves. Working from home also tends to remove in-office distractions, which often translates to better productivity over time.
2.) Reduced Attrition
The daily grind has a way of dulling down the sharpest employees. Data on American employees before the pandemic showed that attrition tended to be much higher among office-based staff than it was for people who work from home. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the same was true for Filipino employees before the pandemic as well.
Current experiences with local WFH seem to suggest that the employee retention benefits of WFH arrangements cut across different cultures. WFH allows for a better work-life balance, cost savings for employees, and more opportunities to address mental and physical wellness. By and large, this translates into better job satisfaction, which in turn reduces attrition.
The reduction in attrition is a net benefit for most businesses, as it allows them to save on employee development and training costs. Employee time utilization is also maximized as a direct result. Reduced attrition also prevents catastrophic gaps in capabilities that occur with frequent or unexpected resignations.
3.) A Wider Talent Pool
Before the pandemic, few Manila-based companies were considering expanding their talent search beyond the geographical confines of the Greater Manila Area. While there are many jobs where one’s physical presence is mandatory, this disinterest in casting the net wider also applied to jobs that could have been done remotely.
As a result, many local companies experienced unnecessary delays in their hiring, resulting in opportunity costs. Had they been more willing to hire applicants from outside Metro Manila for these positions, they would have likely found the talents they needed sooner.
With more businesses now willing to offer WFH arrangements due to COVID, these types of issues are becoming much less common, which is ironic given all the other labor problems that have resulted from the pandemic.
The explosion in WFH didn’t just benefit Filipinos from outside Metro Manila either. Many differently-abled Filipinos living inside and outside of the capital finally found the means to stay productive, thanks to these arrangements. The WFH trend has finally given thousands of talented differently-abled Filipinos a better shot at building a career despite the limitations life has given them.
4.) Lower Overhead Costs
WFH arrangements don’t just allow for more profits through better productivity, they can increase cost savings as well. And as the old saying goes, every peso you save is a peso you earned.
Some service-oriented businesses have moved to smaller facilities or done away with office facilities altogether, dramatically reducing their rent, maintenance, and utility expenses. Even businesses that continued limited office operations enjoyed some of these cost savings, simply by having fewer people in the office.
Now that the end of the pandemic is within sight, we’re likely to see businesses ask more of their employees to return to the office. However, chances are that we won’t see offices as filled with workers as we used to. Now that both businesses and their employees have seen the benefits of WFH, many will be hesitant to go back to the way things were.