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Exploring Telecommuting as the New Normal Work Arrangement: A Rapid Assessment of Telecommuting Practices Prior and During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the enactment of Republic Act No. 11165 and its Implementing Rules and Regulations, telecommuting, a type of flexible work arrangement was institutionalized in 2018. As lockdowns and stay-at-home measures were enforced at the onset of the pandemic, workforce is instructed to work remotely. This study analyzed the trends and practices on telecommuting prior and during COVID-19 pandemic, in aid of developing an operational framework for companies to adopt in times of emergency situations (e.g., pandemic). Findings of the study revealed that, telecommuting is not the only option of companies in implementing flexibilities in their workplaces even during the pandemic. Their choices are geared toward flexibility in work hours rather than flexibility in the place of work. Because certain job functions, not industries, are not “telecommute-able.” Moreover, the lack or limited consultation with employees on the aspects of telecommuting (policy/guidelines, eligibility, and rights and benefits of telecommuting employees) resulted to variations in implementing the work arrangement which caused several challenges for the employers, workers, and the DOLE. Hence, social dialogue is very important, particularly in formulating industry/sector-specific guidelines such as: (1) determining the eligibility of employees; (2) employer-shouldered costs; and (3) rights and benefits of telecommuting employees. Similarly, the study also recommended a standard template agreement to serve as guide for companies.


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