‘Work from home to stay beyond pandemic’

A new attraction on the coastal side of Baseco in Tondo, Manila, will be launched on October 13, and will be called Baseco Baywalk.

THE end of the pandemic will not necessarily lead to the end of work-from-home arrangements, according to an expert from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

In an Asian Development Blog, ADB Senior Economist Paul Vandenberg said work-from-home arrangements may continue in the new normal in light of the economic benefits to both workers and firms.

In developed countries, Vandenberg noted that recent estimates showed 35 percent to 45 percent of jobs can be done at home in developed countries. The share only declines to about 10 percent to 30 percent in developing countries.

“The only certainty is that Covid-19 has made us aware of the possibilities—and consider the implications for costs, productivity and work-life balance. More office workers and employers may see it as a doable work option and use it more frequently. How frequently is the key unknown,” Vandenberg said.

Given the advantages and disadvantages of work-from-home arrangements, Vandenberg listed three possibilities for the new normal.

Of these possibilities, the reversion to old normal could happen in developing countries, while the blended new normal would likely happen in developed countries.

The hybrid model or the blended new normal would be adopted by developed countries in various forms. This may also lead to three-day work weeks or allowing work from home three days a month.

However, due to small living spaces in developing countries, reverting to the old normal may be more common.

“We might also conjecture that developing countries might be more likely to revert to the old normal than developed countries,” Vandenberg said.

“This may be because housing is more cramped and in poorer condition in the developing countries; there may be more family members around who create distractions, and the status of ‘going to the office’ might be more pronounced,” he added.

Vandenberg said working from home benefited workers through reduced to no commuting time to go to work, while employers were able to maximize their employees.

Working from home also led to reduced rental costs, allowing firms to transition to digital spaces, reducing the need for physical space.

Vandenberg said through work-from-home arrangements, employers can implement workspace-sharing agreements, such as sharing desks.

This was made possible by laptops, shared file storage and the paperless office, which was used by more firms to continue operating during the pandemic.

However, it has also caused many difficulties, such as the distractions and diversions in a work-from-home setting, which was absent from the office setting, thus boosting worker’s productivity.

Employees also encountered challenges in creating demarcations between their home and work lives, while managers had a difficult time monitoring employees.

Image credits: Nonie Reyes


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