Senator Grace Poe has asked the government to "think outside the cubicle" and allow modern technologies for hybrid work arrangements in the country to thrive in promoting inclusive economic growth.
In a privilege speech during the plenary session Tuesday, Aug. 16, Poe said "Hybrid work is not a radical, futuristic idea whose time is yet to come. It is an old friend knocking on our door.”
Poe, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, emphasized that remote work has proven its versatility and should not be downplayed or undermined.
"The tug of war between working in the office and working remotely is playing out before our eyes," she said.
Poe cited the impasse between the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority-registered firms on terminating work-from-home (WFH) arrangements by September 2022.
"We have seen first-hand how excessive meddling by bureaucrats can choke out innovation. The FIRB's heavy-handed policies appear to be headed in the same direction. This is a clear example where government is the problem, not the solution," she stressed.
A study published in the Philippine Review of Economics last year bared that up to one-third of jobs in the country's capital have telework potential, while 22 million workers' jobs are partially teleworkable, Poe noted.
"Working from home paid dividends in terms of physical, emotional and mental health: 74.2 percent reported improved physical fitness; 35.7 percent had a more relaxed working environment; and 27.8 percent had more time to spend on personal relationships," added Poe, citing the CISCO global hybrid work 2022 study.
Poe has filed Senate Resolution (SR)125 urging the Senate to conduct an inquiry into the implementation of the Telecommuting Act or Republic Act (RA) 11165 in order to propose amendments to the measure, with the end goal of promoting work-from-home and hybrid work arrangements.
"RA 11165 recognizes the technological developments that have opened up new and alternative avenues for employees to carry out their work such as telecommuting and other flexible work arrangements," the resolution stated.
Section 8 of the law directs the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to establish and maintain a telecommuting pilot program and submit its findings to Congress, Poe further cited in her resolution.
"We should push back on agencies who refuse to think 'outside the cubicle.' Let's work together to turn work into something that we do, not something we only need to go to," Poe said.