Pinoy business execs see hybrid model as future of work

Local business leaders concluded during a forum organized last July 5 by delivery firm NinjaVan Philippines that hybrid work will be here to stay as changing workforce priorities have upended the old work model.

Officials from the country’s job search and networking platforms, human resources industry, and government agreed that hybrid work is the preferred model among employees as this allows them to divide their time between office-based work and work from home.

LinkedIn emerging markets regional sales head Atul Harkisanka pointed out that the number of remote job postings on LinkedIn have remained stable despite loosening pandemic regulations. The availability of work from home positions reflects the efforts of companies to adapt to the candidate-driven market.

The work-life balance afforded by flexible work is a serious consideration for today’s employees, Harkisanka said, adding the Philippine labor market is no exception.

Philip Gioca, Jobstreet Philippines country manager, chimed in with Jobstreet’s findings on the country’s evolving workforce. Due to the pandemic, the job search platform found that 67% of Filipino employees now prioritize their health and well-being over work. Additionally, 53% of Filipino employees prefer to stay in a remote set-up, even if it entails working longer hours.

“Employees have tasted work from home and they know the benefits work from home can give,” explained Ninja Van Philippines chief commercial officer Sabina Lopez-Vergara.

“Those lull moments or those 3 hour to 4 hour commutes that would’ve been taken to go to the office, they can take that time back and become a bit more productive and that helps a lot with work-life balance,” she said.

Putting itself forward as an example, Ninja Van Philippines listened to its employees and enacted a full hybrid setup for its corporate office. Those in sales, marketing, finance, and administration only report to work physically on an as-needed basis. 

Moreover, Ninja Van reconfigured its office to be more welcoming towards employees so they would actually want to come in. By removing desks and adding more meeting areas, lounges, as well as fitness and recreation equipment, the office was geared towards collaboration and socialization.  

Flexible working environments, however, are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Hybrid set-ups must be customized to fit an organization’s needs.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) executive director for the Institute of Labor Studies (ILS) Charisma Satumba cited a 2021 ILS study that revealed almost 20% of Filipino companies did not feel equipped to make the transition. Additionally, 15% of companies felt they needed more information on how to implement such work arrangements.

Robert Walters senior manager Mae Mendoza added that hiring hurdles, challenges in retaining company culture, as well as innovation and productivity gaps, are some of the common difficulties companies may encounter when shifting to hybrid.

To ease the implementation of hybrid work, People Management Association of the Philippines (PMAP) president Ellen Fullido advised companies’ human resources departments to maximize available technologies. She said integrating data analytics and the cloud into HR processes will enable people managers to focus on strategic issues, critical people issues, as well as anticipate the contexts and design the policies necessary for the transition.

Lopez-Vergara added her own recommendation: “It’s also important to keep in mind that hybrid set-up, is always in a flux. Everything is changing all at the same time.”

“We have to be cognizant of the fact that the workplace will become flexible and the workplace needs to be flexible and managers need to be also adapting to what the workforce and what the workplace needs,” she said.

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