Remote work is here to stay

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Companies that intend to attract and retain upcoming talent must offer work-from-home arrangements as a permanent option. Lars Wittig, country manager of IWG Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia, said that flexible arrangements are especially important to millennials who prefer to be measured by “their results and not by timesheets.”

By Mariel Alison L. Aguinaldo

Resisting work-from-home arrangements for employees could render companies obsolete, according to a co-working-space executive.

Lars Wittig, country manager of IWG Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia, said that flexible arrangements are especially important to millennials who prefer to be measured by “their results and not by timesheets.”

Thus, companies that intend to attract and retain upcoming talent must offer work-from-home arrangements as a permanent option.

“Nobody in the future is going to take a job where they are measured by whether or not they show up at a certain time at the office and then check out again at 5:30 or 6 p.m.,” he said during the Asia Future-of-Work Forum 2020 held on June 25.

Some employers are lukewarm toward work-from-home arrangements since they feel it will cause a drop in productivity. But for Mitch Locsin, first vice-president and sales head at PLDT Enterprise, this concern can be addressed by using the right tools and system of measurement, as well as ensuring close supervision of employees.

“For example, for sales, we use Salesforce as the tool, wherein our employees are logging in their tracking sheets how many video calls [they have made] with customers,” he said. “And you have to have your leaders to actually manage your employees to make sure that everything is in place.”

Others emphasize that work-from-home arrangements allow for a more inclusive workspace. Ruth Owens, founder of Connected Women, calls it “a gamechanger” for women who will want to continue pursuing their careers along with attending to their obligations at home.

“Women naturally think, ‘I’m going to get married, have children,’ and so, therefore, they pass on all of these opportunities for promotions, because one day they’ll have to quit because they want to be with their children. But work should not be a sacrifice; it should be an opportunity,” she said.

There are, of course, certain concerns that may be unique to specific industries. Gemma Gaerlan, chief operations officer at EY Global Services, said that data protection is vital for a professional services firm such as theirs.

They address this concern by imposing strict information security guidelines and processes. This includes applying two-factor authentication on laptops to ensure that only the assigned user can access it; and deploying global policies and mandatory annual training programs on handling sensitive information, data privacy, and risk management.

Meanwhile, others find that working-from-home is not a hundred percent fit for their industry. Cary Lagdameo, head of Damosa Land, finds this the case for his full-service real estate firm.

As a compromise, he implemented a mixture of working from home, from their main office, and from their satellite offices at field projects. This solution also brought about some unprecedented benefits to the learning experience of their employees who were often only exposed to the goings-on at their head office.

Mr. Lagdameo also believes that employees, as human beings, will always crave firsthand interaction. “Personally, I do still enjoy being able to plan in-person with my team and being able to brainstorm in person,” he said. “I guess we are, after all, social creatures.”

Related story: See how people in the Philippines are working from home in BusinessWorld’s ‘WFH During ECQ’ series.

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