Issue of September 12, 2021
     
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Hybrid work or ready for the office?
Nonnette C. Bennett
Everywhere we go, operations are not full force yet. Government offices are imposing more online schedules of appointments and no-walk-in policy.

The banks keep some operations online but must keep transaction lines open. Hospitals are as strict and keep the health protocols and admissions strictly monitored. Appointments with doctors are through text or online messages.

Hybrid work, as they call it, is working from home or working at the office part time. There are talks that workers prefer to stay home and will change jobs if the quarantine restrictions are finally lifted.

Here are some reactions on a survey I took of some office workers.

Japs Samson


Japs Samson of Smart Telecoms said the company decided the workfrom home set up. Administrative work, meetings and conferences are done online. There are no challenges to the online type of work but says that negotiations and deals with non-technical clients are the difficult ones, “since they cannot understand well the details of the conversation unlike face-to-face meetings.” He prefers work from home during the pandemic and is not ready to go back to work with the rising number of cases of the Delta variant.

Jack Leybag


Jack Leybag, a government employee, said he works at the office five days a week and does field work. He has no days working from home because of the nature of his job and this is the decision of his department head. At the office, he does inspection reports, data report, health clearances, attending to clients. The field work includes sanitation inspection, disinfection, information dissemination, and collection of infectious wastes. The job is challenging. He says, the health risk is higher as compared to just normally sitting inside the office.

Ralph Janset de Guzman


Ralph Janset de Guzman, a bank worker, said, “I used to have days that I work from home. Now, I’m back full time reporting for work at the office. It’s the decision of my boss. Working from office and home are the same. The difference is we cannot access our banking system outside the office for real time checking of accounts. The difficulty is working from home, I use my personal laptop which is slow and Internet is also unreliable. I can’t focus as much as well because the bed is too inviting. I prefer a mixture of work from home and report to work. I’ve been reporting for work at the office already.

Juliet Dum-payan


Juliet Dum-payan, a financial adviser, said: “I work at home almost all days. I report to our physical office once a week for half a day. Our company gives us the freedom to do so.” She added there is no difference between work at home and office but that she gets to meet some of her teammates and clients in person when she goes to the office. It was difficult at first to adjust to working from home but got used to it. Some of her teammates are hard up learning the digital way of doing things without my direct mentoring. She now prefers work from home but would want to meet her team in-person once a week. She is already running her office from home. But when things have normalized, she will be reporting to the office twice a week. Kris Tolentino, an IT worker, said that at the moment, it is not mandatory to work in their office. She said their company has created a committee to decide on work from home and the office. “I manage technology teams and the work we do ranges from supporting tech issues to app developers. Not that difficult, the challenge with managing people remotely is maintaining the relationship between team members. Face-to-face feedback is also more effective than giving feedback virtually. In terms of doing work, there is not much difference. Since we support internal clients globally, most of our interactions are virtual. Hybrid work is better. The flexibility and time savings when working from home is an advantage. We are not ready to go back to the office yet. There is still a very high risk of being exposed to the virus and we can’t guarantee the safety of our employees.”

Kris Tolentino


Kris Tolentino, an IT worker, said that at the moment, it is not mandatory to work in their office. She said their company has created a committee to decide on work from home and the office. “I manage technology teams and the work we do ranges from supporting tech issues to app developers. Not that difficult, the challenge with managing people remotely is maintaining the relationship between team members. Face-to-face feedback is also more effective than giving feedback virtually. In terms of doing work, there is not much difference. Since we support internal clients globally, most of our interactions are virtual. Hybrid work is better. The flexibility and time savings when working from home is an advantage. We are not ready to go back to  the office yet. There is still a very high risk of being exposed to the virus and we can’t guarantee the safety of our employees.”

Audrey Sung-duan


Audrey Sung-duan of Travel and Tours, says that she does both office and work from home. The office work is done by appointment. This includes the assessment of clients’ chances of being approved for a visa, preparing clients for visa interviews, and signing of the memorandum of agreement. At home, she helps prepare a clients’ immigration applications and paperwork, or proofread them to ensure they are accurate and error-free and assists clients in all facets of immigration abroad including family sponsorship, express entry, refugee claims, permanent residency, or studying/working in Canada. In this pandemic, we experience difficulty in terms of the global travel restrictions. For the office, no walk-in clients are accepted, they have to book an appointment via our company’s page. There is no difficulty in managing the scheduled appointments of clients. I prefer online and face to face meetings with clients. As a business owner, I apply my services online and in the office when it is time to sign contracts.

Santiago Bugnosen


Santiago Bugnosen, a government employee, shared: “The office and work from home is dependent on the pandemic situation, work from home is scheduled by the office. Initial orders come from the regional director then each division schedules work from home per personnel.” Office and work from home are generally similar work. Most work from home are report writing, communication letters and preparation of programs. Work from home is better, challenges though are no face-to-face contact with clients and company office to render needed services, hence delivery and transmittal of output and reports takes time. “Obviously, I prefer work from home. We need to improve the virtual link though for faster communications.” He is always ready to go back to the office. For the love of rendering the services which we are being paid for.

For most workers, some have been working at the office depending on the nature of the job. The others prefer to work from home because of the threats of Covid-19 and the variants. It looks like the back to office order is not coming soon. The schools are about to open, and the same hybrid education will be in place. But one thing that is evident, the face-to-face interaction is still vital for humans.
 

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