35% of Filipino employees: Trip to office ‘waste of time’

THIRD of Filipino employees found traveling to work a complete waste of time, aside from contributing to stress at work, a study showed. Based on latest research from flexible workspace provider Regus, employees regard their daily trip to and out of the office a drain on productivity.

Noted as a time in “limbo,” commuting is mainly seen as “neither productive work time nor enjoyable personal time, and is widely regarded as an obstacle to more useful or entertaining pursuits.”

Of the almost 40,000 Regus survey respondents, 35 percent reported time spent commuting was a pointless, undefined time, while 26 percent positively said they hated their commute and branded it as a “waste” of their precious time.

This meant that for well over half of employees in the Philippines, commute time could be re-invested in more productive work time or in enjoying a few hours more sleep in the morning.

“As commute times continue to get longer and longer, it is devastating to find that the vast majority of Filipino workers regard their daily travel to work and back home as a complete drain on their work-day productivity and they are equally unable to devote it to personal or leisure activities,” Regus Philippines Country Manager Lars Wittig said.

Traffic congestion in Metro Manila is born out of years of underinvestment and the lack of political will. It is also an offshoot of the increasing number of vehicles on the road, no thanks to the expanding Philippine economy.

“In the Philippines business people are expected to always be available and connected, but in reality, there is a much bigger and subtler drain on their productivity than not having a smartphone on hand, and that is the daily commute,” Wittig said.

Only 14 percent of the respondents view daily commute as profitable work time, while 23 percent regarded it as personal time, perhaps as they are able to read and catch up on the latest news on their smartphone.

“Savvy businesses wanting to restore productivity and reward workers with more personal time or simply with a lie-in every once in a while would do well to allow employees to work closer to home at least some of the time,” Wittig added.

The government and the private sector recently concluded collaboration talks to address the traffic mess through tech-based solutions.

In a document obtained by the BusinessMirror, the information and communications technology (ICT) industry—led by the Department of Information and Communications Technology and telecommunications giants Smart Communications Inc. and Globe Telecom Inc.—proposed the use of a technology-based traffic-management scheme that will provide synchronized traffic signal-prioritization schemes and real-time alternate-routes information.

Likewise, the industry committed to install “broadband connectivity in major highways, roads and thoroughfares to allow commuters to access e-mail and work while on the road.”

This, according to the document, will promote the culture of telecommuting, which, in simpler terms, is the method by which an employee does a task away from the office.

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Sources regularly see Lorenz at telco and transport conferences. He graduated from the University of Santo Tomas, and has been covering the beat since 2013. He likes to featurize stories, and tries to find another angle for spot news. He travels during his spare time, and likes his coffee black -- no cream, no sugar.