Transitioning to the new normal | Inquirer Business
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Transitioning to the new normal

Last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of a possible surge of COVID-19 in the next two months in spite of the sharp decrease in infection in recent weeks.

The resurgence may result from the closer contact among Filipinos in the observance of Ramadan and the Holy Week and the runoff to the May 9 elections.

For businesses that are slowly transitioning to prepandemic operations, the WHO’s warning is something they have to take into consideration as they make their plans for the rest of the year.


Those that adopted work-from-home (WFH) arrangements in the past two years have to decide whether or not to maintain that work scheme until the WHO or the Department of Health gives the “all clear” signal.


Changing work schedules on short notice would not only upend carefully prepared business plans, but can be stressful to affected employees who have to make adjustments again in their daily routine.

As the possibility looms that COVID-19 would eventually become endemic (or no different from influenza or the common cold), some employers have to address the issue on whether to require all their employees to report for work in person or adopt a hybrid work system of WFH and physical attendance schedules.

For businesses that, by nature of their operation, require employees’ actual presence, i.e. factories or manufacturers of products, there is no choice but order the resumption of work according to prepandemic arrangements.

It is the businesses that rely on IT or internet-based facilities for their operation and had effectively used WFH arrangements to maintain their productivity during the height of COVID-19 that would soon have to address that issue.

Their millennial or Gen Z employees who had experienced the comfort and flexibility of WFH may not be keen on giving up that privilege and returning to the routine of daily commute to work.

They may have also formed certain habits or practices around that work schedule that they may be averse to discontinuing if ordered to punch the bundy clock again.


That may not be the case for some more chronologically advanced (or older) employees who enjoy the company of fellow employees and consider their regular interaction with them as an essential element of their social life.

Bear in mind, however, that not all of employees in the latter may have the same disposition. Some may want to remain on WFH status because of its convenience or, in the case of employees with young children, the time and opportunity it gives them to attend to their family obligations without sacrificing their occupation. In effect, they are able to get the best of both worlds.

The problem is, if an employer adopts a work arrangement that allows the younger set to do WFH while the “oldies” report for work, its work culture or cohesiveness may be adversely affected.

Without close working relations between the two groups, the younger employees may feel alienated or not consider themselves part of the staff. There goes employee morale.

What’s more, the traditional mentoring system, i.e., the more experienced employees sharing their expertise with their juniors, would be set aside to the detriment of the business.

For some businesses, part of the equation in deciding on the work schedule when things get back to normal is the savings they reaped from WFH by way of reduced overhead on rentals, utility bills and other office-related expenses.

If the business can operate profitably with minimal office space, why require all or majority of the employees to report for work and, in the process, forfeit those savings?

Besides, there is no assurance the employees’ level of efficiency or productivity during WFH periods would be the same or replicated if they are in the office.

In light of the considerations mentioned, some employers may have to go back to the drawing board to look for a win-win solution on their work schedules as the country transitions to post-COVID-19 conditions, or the new normal. INQ

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TAGS: Business, New normal, pandemic

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