Finally! Work from home!

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I was about to drive to the Ortigas area from Quezon City last Saturday at past 1 p.m. I estimated it would take me less than an hour. Waze corrected me that the fastest route would take an hour or so. Everytime I checked Waze, I allotted around 15 minutes or more for additional traffic. And so I began my journey. I noticed that every so often, Waze would recalculate and give me another route. Then it would announce a delay of 10 minutes or so.

With less people on the road, more time will be devoted to what they are tasked to do. With more time for work, there is a lot more efficiency.

Worse, it displayed on the right side of the screen the road in bright red indicating how many minutes, which seemed hours, I would be stuck in traffic. Before I knew it, it took me more than two grueling hours to get merely from Capitol Hills, Quezon City to the Podium in the Ortigas area. My additional traffic-time allotment obviously fell way short of reality. That amount of time on a traffic-free day would mean a cruising road trip from the Ortigas area to Tagaytay already. Nowadays, spending that much time on Manila roads makes you feel spent when you get to your destination. Really spent.

Two lawyers from my law firm in fact resigned. The reason — traffic. No kidding. They said they spent six hours more or less on the road every single day. As if my office is in the boondocks. So, I probed my lawyer who lives in Quezon City. He said he had to travel in the morning to the office in the Ortigas area for three long hours. Getting off from work at night made no difference. He spent an equal amount of time going home. He finally threw in the towel two years after. Same case with the other lawyer who lives in Parañaque.

Nowadays, traffic has become such a major concern. Gone are the days when everything seemed 10 minutes away. Now, it takes quite literally forever to travel from the Ortigas area to Makati and vice versa. I finished a meeting at the Dusit Hotel one Monday at 5:30 p.m. It took me more than two hours just on EDSA alone to reach the Ortigas area. First gear all the way.

The government has finally given a solution to this ever-growing, seemingly perennial and horrendous traffic problem. With the passage of Republic Act 11165, An Act Institutionalizing Telecommuting as an Alternative Work Arrangement for Employees in the Private Sector, employees can already work from home. Yes, you read it correctly. You need not be physically present at the office. You can actually do whatever you are tasked to do at the office in the very comforts of your home. Alleluia! Please take note, though, it does not apply to employees in the government sector.

Under this law, telecommuting can be done. It “refers to a work arrangement that allows the employee in the private sector to work from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunication and/or computer technologies.”(Section 3, RA 11165). Thanks to the computer, work can be performed remotely from one’s home. Actually, I know of some friends who, even before this law was passed on 20 December 2018, are already doing their work in their houses. And it actually makes sense. They are just as efficient as us who are in the workplace. In this day and age, most transactions and communication are done online.

Even us lawyers communicate with clients largely via e-mail, video and phone calls and other forms of social media. This cuts the need for a physical face-to-face meeting. And with this, there are less people clogging the roads of the metropolis.

Well, with how our major thoroughfares have become virtual parking lots, people have actually become allergic to being a victim of carmageddon. I remember one evening in October two years ago when the entire Ortigas area was in a gridlock. People, me included, were stuck in our cars for hours and hours. You’d see all sorts of complaints, grunts and grumbling on Facebook, Instagram and the like. And there was no special event that evening.

It just so happened that it was 6 p.m., a Friday and raining. All those three combined resulted in traffic getting snarled until late evening.

So, this new telecommuting law hopefully greatly contributes to easing the traffic. But that is not its sole purpose. It is efficiency and the result. With less people on the road, more time will be devoted to what they are tasked to do. With more time for work, there is a lot more efficiency. And this efficiency definitely translates to more income generated. Ergo, a richer Philippines.

And do bear in mind that working from home does not diminish your compensation and work benefits. The law affords protection to those who avail themselves of the telecommuting arrangement. Check out the law. It mentions the do’s and don’ts the employer can and should do. And foremost is the protection of the employees.

But hold your horses. Do not nag your boss yet into giving you this work-from-home arrangement. The law will still have its implementing rules. Once implemented, I foresee this will greatly alleviate our traffic problem, aside from the more important economy-boost. So, what seems hopeless gives us now a glimmer of hope. Indeed, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope there is no more traffic after the tunnel. Hahaha!

What are your thoughts?

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