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Is WFH an Option or Our New Modus Vivendi?

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

by Ross Villamil, Managing Director, PVP

Almost a month into the Enhanced Community Quarantine [ECQ], it seemed very apparent that the Work from Home [WFH] arrangement is indeed our new reality. It is now becoming our modus vivendi.

For the majority of the Filipino workforce, March 16, 2020, would abruptly change the landscape of our working environment. That fateful day marked the start of the enhanced community quarantine and since then most companies have adopted the WFH arrangement for some of their employees not considered as “front liners.”

I was introduced to the WFH concept in 2012 during my stint as an HR executive for one of the country’s leading MNCs. We were then having challenges with our employee retention and so our team was tasked to develop a program to arrest the situation and better improve employee work-life balance. The following year, we introduced the Flexible Work Arrangements and WFH is one of the options we offered. One could avail of this option for the following reasons: a new mother nurturing a baby, parents who want to improve their quality time with their children, caring for sick parents or close relatives and even to have a break from the worsening traffic situation in the metropolis. However, if my memory serves me right, there were only a few who availed of this option—I can safely say about 3% on our first year. Those who availed and took advantage of this were usually the younger generation employees.

Since then, I saw an uptrend in the use of the WFH arrangement among several companies in the Philippines. Some companies allow WFH for their employees on certain days in a week and some even on extended WFH for as long as they deliver the required outputs and results. There is also growing popularity and demand for WFH online jobs that are becoming more practical, attractive and lucrative for some people. I was also drawn into WFH in 2018 after much consideration of the quality of my work-life balance.

Fast forward to March 2020. One of the good things that came out of our COVID-19 experience (no bashers please, I am looking at a silver lining here) was that it accelerated the use of WFH set-up as a viable alternative to ensuring business continuity. Companies were only given very short notice to transition to this set up. There was no other choice and employers and employees need to adapt to this new environment.

Like all the changes in our lives, we go through certain stages—denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance—that is according to Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. I do not know at what stage are you in now in dealing with this change but if it is any consolation, I am certain that WFH is not a new reality—maybe some years back—2012? But now this is the REALITY. WFH is the MODUS VIDENDI.

And as we ACCEPT it as our NOW, our PRESENT, allow me to give you three tips on how to start enjoying this GIFT:

1. Embrace the Change and Be proactive. We are living in a volatile, uncertain, disruptive, complex and ambiguous (VUDCA) world. Being comfortable with change becomes mandatory for us to navigate and be successful in this reality. It is also important that we know the things that we can control and the things we cannot.

2. Know and Set your Priorities. At the end of the day, it will all be about knowing our priorities and pursuing the things that we are passionate about and important to us.

3. Be Agile and Enjoy Life. Be nimble, be quick. Now is not the time to fret and dilly-dally, time is of the essence here. Contrary to YOLO, you do not live only once, you live every day and you only die once (unless you are a cat!). So, let us enjoy life!!!

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