Since the pandemic hit the world in 2020, there were a lot of changes that needed to be implemented especially in the Philippines. One of the most affected was the workforce. There were people who needed to go physically to work like the health workers and other front liners. For some government offices, they needed to continue working but because the transportation was suspended, many transformed their physical offices to virtual offices and meant that employees would need to work from home. This study examined the effectiveness, practicalities, and psychological outcomes of working from home. The findings show that the Philippine Eye Research Institute staff can cope with working from home on an average level even with the different factors like anxiety because of the pandemic. It should be considered that the study is limited to PERI staff hence the sample size is considered small, the results of this study does not represent the general population outside the institute.
In recent years, working from home or teleworking or remote working has increased popularity especially when less time is spent on commuting (Nakrosiene, Bucuiuniene,& Gostautaite, 2019). In the Philippines, a study was conducted in 2017 showed that on average, 16 days are spent commuting every year (Dancel 2018). This review will be discussing the effectiveness , practicalities and psychological outcomes of working from home amidst natural disasters or crises. As of this writing, only one article indicated scientists as one of the affluent few who can benefit from teleworking or work from home. The said article was written on March 20, 2020 by pewresearch.org and for this reason the author would like to have additional resources that tackles the effectiveness of work from home in the Philippine setting.
There was a study conducted in 2012, where employees were allowed to work from their homes provided there is a designated room where no one is allowed to enter within the duration of office hours. The employee would need to have a computer, internet and functioning telephone to be able to do their jobs. Most of these employees are holding a higher position. (Bloom, 2012) In the same study, Bloom’s team continued to observe the group that is telecommuting and in a span of nine months and they observed a 13% increase in the productivity of those people working from home. The attrition rate was lowered and the job satisfaction increased. This is why they concluded that the work from home program is effective in terms of business.
The advantages of working from home are Increased family and leisure time (Ammon and Markham, 2004). Working from home also lowers stress levels of employees because they are in their comfort zone ( Fonner and Roloff, 2010). Increased job satisfaction was mentioned as one of the advantages of working from home and this also includes the lower attrition rate. (Gurstein, 2007). It also lowers facility cost for the business owner because they usually do not need to rent or have a physical office to operate (James, 2018). According to the American Economic Review, employees are willing to have an 8% cut in their compensation if there is an option to work from home (James, 2018) this lowers the expense of the company for payroll. As for anything there will always be two sides of a coin, the disadvantage of working from home is that staff feels isolated. Half of the study group applied to go back to work after working from home for nine months because they missed the person to person interaction even if they know that an average of 40 minutes will be added to their travel time. (Bloom, 2015). Another downside is that staff are unable to switch off meaning they continue to work even after office hours. (Felstead & Henseke, 2017). Person to person communication is weakened due to remote working. Millennials have this trait because they are mostly connected to people not through person to person interaction but through social media or through the use of their gadgets.(Ammons and Markham, 2004; Agrawal 2017)
In November 2019, there was news that there is an emerging new flu like disease affecting many people in China. In December of the same year, the Government of China admitted that there is an epidemic that is caused by a virus called N-COV by researchers in China. It was called N-CoV because scientists saw this kind of coronavirus for the first time; it is later renamed to SARS CoV- 2 or the most popular name to date is CoVid-19. It affects the lungs and it can come through the nose, eyes and mouth. Most coronaviruses like the MERS-CoV and Sars can be transmitted through aerosol but this N-CoV is believed to be transmitted through droplets. What is also unique with this virus is that it can infect other people but not manifest any symptoms. This prompted governments around the world to initiate a lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. Chain reaction took place, due to the lockdown, public transportation was suspended, schools facilities temporarily closed and foot traffic was halted. No one was allowed to go out of their homes unless they are considered essential workers.
Many companies were forced to implement a work from home scheme just to have a continuous transaction in offices. The BPO industries were allowed to operate provided they will have employees work from home. Many State Universities have implemented alternative work schedules, to answer to the needs of their clients and at the same time make their employees safe and still maintain their jobs. But is it really productive in times of the pandemic?
According to Bloom (2020) it is difficult to work from home at this time. His reasons are first, children are also at home and parents become full time teachers on top of working for a company. The pandemic has a psychological effect on people. Most people worry about the future including but not limited to being infected, work status and social relationships. In his 2012 study, staff are asked to come to work on Fridays to reconnect with their colleagues. Interpersonal relationships are very important in one’s well being but in the recent events that are unfolding, people cannot go to their workplace until all has been cleared or until the community quarantine is lifted. Although according to Certulo et al. (2020) working from home gives the employees the opportunity to practice social distancing because in the office or workplace they will be cramped in a small room which increases the possibility of contamination. But he also said that the employee must meet the requirement of having a stable internet, a room for working and a working computer. Working remotely will be the "in” thing following the pandemic, but without meeting the basic requirements, it will never be as productive when you are working in the office.
The researchers used a questionnaire that would measure the staff’s ability to work from home. That google form was emailed to all staff and were told that it would be voluntary and that they can withdraw at any time. The withdrawal criteria was also written on the form itself. It also included demographics like gender, educational background and marital status because the researcher believes that these can also affect the effectiveness and the ability of an employee to work from home especially with the pandemic.
There were a total of 18 respondents both coming from the researchers and the admin staff of the Philippine Eye Research Institute. There were 44.4% male respondents and there were 55.6% female respondents.
The findings in this study have to be seen in the light of some limitations. The sample size in this study is the whole of the Philippine Eye Research Institute and cannot be considered as a general guideline for Filipino workers outside the institute. This study was conducted for the primary reference of the Institute and not intended for the general public. In the future, another study should be made and should be conducted with a larger population.
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The data shows that among the 18 respondents, more than half of the workforce is female with an average of 55.6% while there are 44.4% which are male. This only shows that the work force in the Philippine Eye Research Institute is almost equally distributed to the male and female gender.
Among the 18 respondents, 38.9% is from the age group of 21-30 years of age. The next age group that got the highest respondents are the 51-60 age group at 33.3%. The 31-40 age group got 16.7 % which is third in ranking and lastly the 41-50 age group got 11.1%.
Knowing the age group of the respondents will show how diverse the opinions and traditions or customs that are present in the institute. According to Agrawal (2017) work attitude differs from age group to age group. This will eventually show how these staff are affected by the pandemic and how they cope considering they still must work.
Among the 18 respondents, 14 or of the respondents hold the undergraduate degree. Two of the staff members or 11.1% have a Master’s degree and 1 or 5.6% hold a doctorate degree.
According to pewresearch.com that the higher your education is, the higher your position in the workplace. Hence the better that they can work from home without any issues because the nature of work that they do e.g. Research or management can be done at home or remotely.
It is noted that 8 respondents or 44.4% are married and at the same time an equal amount goes for those who are single. There is one who is widowed and another one who is separated that comprise the 11.2% of the respondents.
According to Bloom in his 2020 study, that civil status affects the effectiveness and productivity of working from home. There might be issues if there are young children living with the working parents or having to take care of older dependent parents to working children or the change in the role at home from working to household chores.
After the demographics the researcher asked several questions to show some clarifications on how effective, practical and what are the psychological outcomes of working from home is.
A. On what level do you feel confident in your objectives when you are working from home? (1 - Not Confident at All, 5 - Very Confident)