I love Fridays. It always reminds me of the next two days wherein I do not have to set an alarm, I do not have to prepare to go to work, and I simply do not have anything that has to be done on schedule within the day. Usually, on Thursday, I am more motivated to work, because I always think that in a few hours, Friday and I will meet, then I will have the chance to relax on Saturday and Sunday. At the end of a long and tiring week, I look forward to the next two days off. How exciting is it if we have three?
The House of Representatives approved House Bill No. 6152 or “the compressed work week,” which will allow companies to implement a four-day workweek. It will be both beneficial for the employer and the employee because it promotes business competitiveness, work efficiency, labor productivity, and work-life balance. It is also assumed to decongest the traffic situation we have in the Metro. However, to abide with the Philippine Labor Code which requires employees to work from 40 to 48 hours, employees have to render 10 to 12 hours of work everyday rather than the usual 8 to 9 hours. Is this viable, knowing our current work and economic situation?
Personally, I have not experienced CWW. So I asked two of my friends who did, one from a public sector agency whose CWW is still on pilot testing, and the other from the private sector whose company has been implementing this work schedule for three years. They shared that the main advantage of CWW is that it will reduce commuting time and cost. Of course, when we do not have to go to work, we will reduce transportation, clothing, and even meal expenses, plus we will not have to waste time stuck in traffic. The other advantage is the additional non-working day, which gives workers time to do personal obligations, and increases family or even me-time.
On the other hand, the main disadvantage is the non-fitting schedules between your company and the clients you serve. Only few firms practice CWW here, so they encounter difficulties in meeting the schedules of their stakeholders. Another is the longer working hours that can cause unproductivity due to physical and mental drain. We experience exhaustion when we work eight hours per day, given that we have so much to do. How much more exhausted will be if we have to work 10 hours daily?
Hence, my stand on the compressed workweek is fifty-fifty. I like the idea of three days off, yet, just thinking about the longer working hours makes me feel tired. I think it may work best at multinational companies, because they cater to clients in different time zones. Meanwhile, it may not work for some local companies, especially those whose workers do manual labor, e.g., construction companies. Longer hours may make these workers more prone to accidents, tiredness, and fatigue. Also, it may not help “no work, no pay” workers and people who are compensated on a daily basis or project basis.
Now, given the pros and cons, we get an insight why people have mixed reactions to this bill. There are some who oppose this bill because it is “pro-business and anti-worker.” What’s good about it is that it remains an option for companies, and management has the final say if this is to be implemented or not.
Is compressed workweek workable in the Philippines? The answer is maybe. We have seen the real benefits of having a CWW, but we cannot deny the fact that it is not suitable for all organizations. In implementing the CWW, management should strike a balance or find a win-win situation for the health of both the organization and its people. In addition, HR or a CWW champion should take the lead in managing the change of this major workplace disruption.
Should the government mandate the compressed workweek, the implementing rules and regulations must be flexible enough to adopt for all types of organizations. For example, maybe a four-day (working 10 hours/day) week is too taxing for some organizations. Have they considered a nine-day cycle, where in workers work nine-hour days for nine days, and then take alternate Fridays (instead of every Friday) off?
So, workers of the Philippines, FriYAY or FriNAY?
Vian Nikki Blance S. Montilla is an MBA student of the De La Salle University Ramon V. del Rosario College of Business. This article was written as part of the requirements of the course, Strategic Human Resource Management.