02AFC: Where You Work

Thursday Tinola

Metro Manila Community Quarantine - Day 740

Outside the ongoing political campaigns for the upcoming elections, one of the news items that's generating a lot of social media chatter is about the various Return to Office (RTO) orders. The government (or at least the Department of Finance) is being very stubborn about a literal interpretation of the law and naturally, this is making waves in BPO circles. It's not clear what's going to happen when the 1 April deadline comes around next week, but a lot of people are considering quitting their jobs and looking for work closer to home. We'll see how this standoff will go.

And it's not an easy challenge to resolve. Beyond the government's reasons for wanting people to leave their homes and go back to working in offices in PEZA locations, there needs to be a good reason for people to go back to working together in offices. I had previously mentioned persisting infrastructure issues being one factor because commuting in Metro Manila hasn't gotten any better and will only get worse as more people go back to work. But there are other priorities that people have come to realize like being able to leave Metro Manila and move back to their respective provinces to be with their families while retaining their jobs. There's the benefit for these employees that they now get to spend more tie with their families and don't waste so much time in traffic. The list goes on and on.

As much as a lot of these BPO employers may want to explore such hybrid working arrangements given the impact on employee morale, the DOF imperative sidesteps everything and forces them to make a serious economic choice. I get how some people have compared this choice to blackmail - the DOF stating that BPO companies are free to continue their hybrid working arrangements as long as they give up their tax incentives does sound rather douchey. But that's the government for you. 

I'm honestly curious about companies that have figured out a new way of working for the coming post-pandemic world. We're not quite there, yes, but I'm sure people are already trying out different working models to see what works the best without resulting in too many employees quitting or something. There has to be a solution that balances the needs of the company with the new reality for employees. I don't think there's a single solution that will work for everyone, but I'm obviously invested in at least seeing what people are trying and hearing more about the pros and cons of each working arrangement. 

New normal realities of our lives.