The concept of remote work has been around for some time, but the COVID-19 pandemic brought it into sharp focus for many companies. With physical offices closed due to health and safety concerns, businesses had no choice but to embrace digital solutions and find ways to keep their teams productive while working remotely.
Now that restrictions are easing in the Philippines, more organizations are returning to on-site working arrangements.
Sprout's State of HR 2023 Report reveals that 51% of companies have introduced an on-site working policy. Notably, 33.4% of HR professionals expressed a neutral or uncertain stance towards shifting to an on-site arrangement, indicating a lesser reluctance to work in a physical office than the previous year.
But even as we return to our pre-pandemic routines, remote work remains a viable option for many companies.
In this article, we'll explore the benefits of remote work and the challenges in implementing it in today's changing landscape.
The Trend of Remote Work in the Philippines
During the initial phase of COVID-19, working from home became a popular strategy. However, as the pandemic situation improves in the Philippines and other countries, there is a growing sense that virtual work arrangements are no longer necessary.
The question is, is this model a permanent and beneficial solution or is it only a temporary one?
According to a study conducted by SEEK Asia, working remotely was not an uncommon trend before the pandemic. 52% of Filipinos among the 5,000 local respondents already worked remotely before the COVID-19 outbreak. However, when the pandemic struck, the percentage of people working remotely increased substantially to 85%.
This implies that remote work has been a part of economic operations longer than we had initially presumed. Hence, remote work has always been an essential component of economic activities.
Reaping the Benefits of Working Remotely
As businesses continue to look for ways to increase productivity and reduce costs, more employers are turning to remote work as a viable solution. Companies can decide whether it suits their business by understanding the potential advantages of implementing a remote work policy.
Here are some benefits that companies can reap:
Although employers may be concerned about work-at-home environments' productivity, many have found that the opposite is true. By setting up a comfortable workspace at home and eliminating distractions, workers can often be more productive than in a typical office environment.
Recent studies have shown that people who work from home are more productive than those who work in an office. On average, remote workers spend 10 minutes less each day on unproductive tasks, perform an additional day per week, and achieve a 47% increase in productivity.
Working remotely at least a few times per month increases productivity for 77% of people. Among them, 30% complete more work in less time, and 24% complete the same result in less time.
The costs of purchasing office equipment and paying utilities can add up. When employees work from home, the costs associated with these items are eliminated. In some cases, employees also buy their computers and gadgets, which means the employer has one less expense to worry about.
Hiring remote workers can improve employee retention rates for several reasons. If employees relocate, you won't lose them. Even during pregnancy or early motherhood, employees are more likely to continue working (although they may reduce their hours).
According to Sprout's study titled "The Great Resignation Part 2: The Journey to the Great Retention," 44% of the survey participants reported being happiest when working remotely, while 40% mentioned being most productive when working in a remote setup.
This means that remote work can reduce attrition and increase employee engagement, leading to higher retention rates in the long run.
Access to Various Talent
Hiring remotely allows employers to select top-quality candidates from a wider pool. Certain businesses may require candidates to be in a specific location or time zone, while others can hire from anywhere worldwide.
Nonetheless, remote hiring attracts more applicants than advertising for an in-office position.
Reduced Office Space Cost
One benefit of remote working for employers is the cost savings on office space. Renting or buying office space can be expensive, and other costs are associated with maintaining an in-house office.
Remote work eliminates the need for this expense. Employers no longer have to worry about electricity, water, and Wi-Fi expenses in the office.
Reduced Commuting Time Leading To Decreased Absenteeism
Employee absenteeism can cause great problems for employers. While sickness and unavoidable appointments can contribute to absenteeism, remote working can help reduce it.
Many employees dislike commuting and consider it as detrimental as receiving a pay cut due to delays. Employers may notice remote workers are more willing to start their days early as they do not need to commute.
Additionally, remote workers may be content to work an extra five minutes to complete tasks as they do not need to rush to catch a train at the end of the day.
Hiring remote teams offers the advantage of round-the-clock work beyond the typical office hours of the team's location. This is particularly useful for businesses with a significant customer service presence that requires continuous online availability.
With staff in major time zones, someone will always be available to respond to inquiries and address any issues.
Connect With People Across The Word
Although remote work is often considered less social, it offers the opportunity to connect with people from around the globe through virtual means. This international aspect allows individuals from different backgrounds to share ideas and learn from each other.
Despite being in a virtual workspace, remote work can still facilitate the building of friendships, ultimately boosting job satisfaction and productivity.
Streamline Work Efficiently
Employers often avoid hiring remote employees due to concerns about managing complexity, such as paying remote employees and monitoring their work. They also worry about maintaining effective collaboration with their team.
Despite some skeptics, remote work is becoming increasingly popular and may represent the future of work. Thanks to tools like Trello, which helps teams stay organized, and interactive displays connecting with employees' devices to keep everyone focused, remote work is now more feasible for many teams than ever.
A Guide for Employees: Discover the Benefits of Working Remotely
When it comes to working remotely, many people don't think about the hidden benefits it can bring. They focus on the obvious ones, like being able to work from home in your pajamas or exploring new cities while still having a job.
But there are plenty of other advantages that you might not have considered.
Here's a guide:
You Can Have Better Work-Life Integration
You have the power to achieve better work-life integration when you work remotely. With control over your schedule, time management for work and home tasks will become easier and more efficient, leading to greater personal satisfaction and productivity.
You no longer need to worry about rushing to beat the clock to work and back. You can take pauses to manage your workload and enjoy more free time doing things that matter to you.
You Can Be More Productive
You can increase your productivity by managing your own schedule and working remotely at times that are most conducive to your productivity.
For example, if you're a morning person, you can work in the morning, and if you're a night owl, you can work in the evening while still meeting deadlines without negatively impacting your colleagues.
Thanks to modern technology, remote teams can also collaborate quickly and easily through video calls on the Internet.
You Can Save a Lot of Money
Remote work can be an incredibly cost-effective option for many people. Instead of spending money on expensive commute costs and work-related purchases, you can save that money for other uses.
Remote working also allows parents to spend more time at home with their children, potentially reducing childcare costs. But remember, working with young children present is not recommended.
You Can Work at Any Location
You don't have to be tied to a single city to work - remote work allows you to enjoy the freedom of working from any location.
With a reliable internet connection, you can be productive no matter where you are - from a mountain-top retreat to an oceanside oasis. This way, even if you can't physically move to a particular location, remote work lets you travel and explore the world while maintaining a job.
Your Health & Safety Are Not at Risk
Remote work offers several key benefits that help you stay healthy and safe, especially during this pandemic. For starters, it eliminates the risk of coming into contact with other people's germs through coughing and sneezing. This can help protect you from viruses, colds, and other contagious illnesses.
Moreover, remote work offers more flexibility when it comes to taking breaks. Regular breaks can help prevent burnout, improve overall mental health, and provide opportunities for physical activity such as walking or even yoga.
You Can Have Peace & Quiet
Do you find yourself struggling to focus when working in a traditional office? With the constant ringing of phones and people talking, finding moments of peace and quiet can be difficult.
Working remotely from home gives you access to a much quieter environment, providing the perfect atmosphere for creative thinking and increased productivity.
Identifying Barriers and Challenges of Implementing a Remote Work Setup
With the rise of digital technology, remote work has become an increasingly popular option for many people. Despite its growing popularity, it is essential to understand the challenges and risks of working remotely.
Barriers Affecting the Adoption of Remote Work Setups in the Philippines
The Philippines faces several barriers affecting the adoption of remote work setups. These include but are not limited to inadequate infrastructure, lack of access to digital technology, cultural norms and beliefs, and financial and logistical challenges.
- Inadequate Infrastructure: For remote work to be successful in the Philippines, there needs to be an infrastructure that enables remote workers to do their jobs effectively. This means having a reliable internet connection fast enough for video conferencing and other communication technologies and access to cloud storage solutions and other collaborative tools.
The Philippines is ranked 38th out of 169 countries in the Internet Poverty Index, compiled by the data company World Data Lab based in Austria. More than 58 million Filipinos cannot afford a monthly 1-GB internet package, making the country seventh in the world for having the highest number of people who cannot access the internet.
Additionally, in many rural areas of the Philippines, this technology is not accessible or available due to poor infrastructure.
- Lack of Access To Digital Technology: Many Filipinos still don't have access to computers and other basic forms of digital technology. Without these tools, employees would find it difficult or impossible to complete their duties remotely
Additionally, specific industries require specialized hardware or software, which may not be widely available or affordable.
- Cultural Norms & Beliefs: Cultural norms and beliefs can also play a role in adopting remote work setups in the Philippines. For example, some people still believe that working from home is considered lazy or unproductive by employers.
Additionally, most Filipino families rely on multiple incomes coming into one household. Some family members may feel reluctant about transitioning members into a fully-remote setup because they view it as a riskier form of employment than traditional employment opportunities.
- Financial & Logistical Challenges: Financial resources can also limit individuals' ability to transition into remote work setups in the Philippines; some individuals may not have enough money saved up to make such a transition possible due to living expenses or other unforeseen costs they may incur during this transition period (e.g., purchasing additional technology).
Additionally, logistical issues such as finding ways for employees and employers to meet up for important business meetings could become an obstacle if the geographical distance between them is too great.
Challenges Experienced With Remote Work and How To Solve Them
Unplugging After Work Hours
Remote work does not necessarily make one a slacker. In fact, many remote workers struggle with overworking. A report by Buffer in 2019 showed that 22% of remote workers find it challenging to disconnect from work after hours.
Remote work might make you feel guilty that your manager thinks you're not working enough. As a result, you may try to work extra hours just to show that you're busy.
If you have difficulty disconnecting from work, ask your partner, family, or friend to remind you when to take a break. Short breaks throughout the day can help improve productivity, so set reminders to step away from your desk.
When you work remotely, you have the freedom to work from any location. However, multiple distractions can be a problem, such as household chores or caring for your kids. This can occasionally make it difficult to concentrate on work.
If you struggle to focus at work due to distractions like social media, browsing the internet, or watching TV, using a timer or time-tracking app may be helpful. This will allow you to see how you spend your time and help you create a more structured schedule.
Team Communication and Relationship
Managing remote employees presents a challenge when building deeper connections with colleagues and feeling like an integral part of the team. The absence of company lunches, coffees, and chats due to not being physically present in the office makes it difficult to establish meaningful relationships.
Companies can use tools such as Zoom, Teams, or Skype to bridge communication gaps with remote employees. These platforms allow for accessible communication between office-based and remote staff.
Productivity and Organization
When working remotely, being skilled in self-motivation and time management is essential since no one will watch your progress. Sticking to a schedule and completing all assignments can be challenging, especially when you have the flexibility of working from home and dealing with various distractions.
It's important to have a well-planned schedule to increase productivity. You can achieve this by creating a to-do list, devising a time management plan, and using the time-blocking method to maximize efficiency.
You can divide your tasks or projects into time slots with time blocking or try other time management techniques if this method isn't unsuitable.
It's common to face technical issues at work or home, but you can rely on your office's IT team for assistance if you work on-site. The problem with remote work is that you're in a different location than your colleagues, so you must find a way to troubleshoot things independently.
Make sure that you have all the necessary tools and knowledge to deal with any technical issues that may arise. Research the most common tech problems and solutions to avoid bigger issues.
If you have a designated IT team in your company, request the team check your system regularly to prevent potential technical problems.
Working from home makes it easy to become inactive and develop bad habits. However, changing your mindset can improve your health.
Here are a few tips:
1. Set regular sleeping hours to avoid feeling tired during the day.
2. Spend some time outside, take a walk for relaxation, and get some vitamin D.
3. Exercise regularly by setting up a home gym, joining a fitness class, or following workout videos on YouTube.
Loneliness is a significant issue that both employees and managers face when working remotely. Even outside of the pandemic, loneliness is a common problem for many people, and it can significantly impact their overall health and well-being.
Remote workers do not have the opportunity to have office conversations or coffee breaks with coworkers, so they must take the initiative to seek social interaction outside of work.
For managers: It is crucial to create opportunities for employees to connect and build relationships.
Here are some tips to help achieve this:
- Invest in a Team Engagement Manager who frequently communicates with employees and uses surveys to assess their level of engagement.
- Organize team events or create groups where colleagues can discuss ongoing challenges and share their successes.
- Occasionally make brief non-work related calls with your employees to chat about topics such as movies, TV shows, and hobbies.
For Employees: If your company is not providing adequate support, exploring other options as a worker might be helpful. Consider the following tips:
- Seek opportunities to socialize with loved ones during lunch breaks and additional free time.
- Try working remotely from different locations like coffee shops, libraries, or even a quiet balcony.
- Reach out to your colleagues for brief and casual conversations about non-work-related topics.
Moving Forward With Sprout: Implementing a Remote Work Policy that Works for Everyone
The importance of creating a flexible policy that considers the needs of both employees and employers cannot be overstated. Developing an effective remote work policy can help ensure that companies, as well as their employees, reap the benefits of this arrangement.
The policy should include rules and guidelines to ensure employees are productive and motivated while promoting healthy work-life integration. Additionally, consider suitable tools and technologies that can facilitate remote work arrangements effectively.
Sprout offers many products that ensure a successful remote work setup in the Philippines. From HR and payroll to analytics and project management, Sprout has you covered.
Here's what you need to do and how Sprout can help you:
Step 1: Determine Which Individuals Have the Option to Work Remotely
Before anything, ask these questions:
- Does your company have a remote work policy clearly outlining whether it is remote-first or remote-friendly?
- If it is remote-friendly, are all employees eligible for the option to work remotely occasionally, or is it only available to certain departments?
It is important to avoid gray areas and ensure fair treatment for all employees, so please clarify these details in your remote work policy. Take a close look at the organizational structure and identify employees who can work remotely before formulating a remote work policy.
Using Pulse can help employers determine their employees' interest in working remotely. Through anonymous surveys, Pulse ensures real feedback. Plus, employers can make data-driven decisions by analyzing engagement analytics and trends across departments, genders, job levels, and tenures.
Step 2: Discuss Cybersecurity Concerns
It is easier to maintain privacy and security control when employees work in-house on your secure server. However, when they work remotely, sharing sensitive information and passwords on public or shared WiFi can put your company's security at risk and potentially cause a significant data breach.
It is essential to incorporate guidelines pertaining to the privacy and cybersecurity of information in your remote work policy. This includes outlining the policies on sharing critical documents and passwords, and the recommended cybersecurity tools.
Sprout’s Professional Services can assist companies in consulting on legal matters and implementing a hybrid work policy that complies with current regulations, including the data privacy act. From incorporation to compliance, Sprout can connect with HR legal experts who can handle challenging conversations and make necessary decisions.
Step 3: Establish Clear Communication
If you don't establish expectations from the beginning, you may encounter difficulties with communication.
To establish guidelines for remote communication within your company, please consider the following:
- Which communication tools will be utilized, and what is the difference in usage between daily updates versus virtual meetings?
- Are there particular project management tools to be utilized, and is there a central location where all team members can access project progress updates?
- How frequently do check-ins need to occur? Are there weekly meetings? Are employees required to check in outside regular business hours, such as on holidays and weekends?
- Within standard business hours, what is the expected response time for communication?
Also, define what are the regular business hours for your company.
If you establish clear guidelines for remote communication in your policy, your team will experience fewer issues and will understand what is expected from them in terms of staying connected.
Pulse is an excellent tool for checking in with team members to gauge their satisfaction and productivity. Pulse is a great way to measure the productivity and happiness of team members. It provides a central dashboard where all user engagement data is stored, creating a single source of truth.
It’s a great way to stay connected and get feedback while ensuring everyone is on the same page with expectations.
Step 4: Discuss Performance Evaluation
Afterward, it's important to establish performance expectations. This can include determining the number of customer service tickets your team should handle per hour or the number of articles or social media posts your marketing department should produce weekly.
These metrics will provide your remote workers with a goal, keeping them focused and accountable.
Performance+ helps businesses improve their performance management processes, helping their workforce have a clearer understanding of their goals and a path for learning and development.
Step 5: Take into Account Legal Compliance
It is crucial to provide legal protection to your company and remote workers. Even though your employees are not physically present in the office, they have the same legal rights.
If you have remote workers, you must plan how to track their working hours and how they are paid. Additionally, you should determine what actions to take if they work more than 40 hours per week.
To avoid having your remote employees work overtime, establish guidelines with them similar to what you would for in-house employees. Make sure to explain this process in your remote work policy. Additionally, keep confidentiality in mind, especially regarding client information.
Sprout Payroll allows for processing company payrolls, including various adjustments such as allowances, bonuses, commissions, deductions, generation of payroll reports, and even year-end reports. It helps the company stay Government compliant while being equipped with the tools to help handle the nuances of payroll in the Philippines.
If you want to ensure HR compliance in your company, this ebook provides guidance on the labor regulations set by the Philippine government. Discover the significance of regulatory compliance and techniques for decreasing compliance risks, and explore how Sprout Professional Services can provide assistance.
Adapting to a Changing Landscape
Working remotely can be a rewarding experience for both employees and businesses. With the right tools, policies, and objectives in place, remote work can be incredibly beneficial to any organization.
Sprout is dedicated to helping companies throughout the Philippines to maximize productivity while maintaining legal compliance and data security. Sprout offers a wide range of products that help users facilitate remote working arrangements quickly and securely.