On 04 November 2020, the International Labour Organization (ILO) hosted a regional webinar to tackle teleworking and other working time arrangements. Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, teleworking has been primarily an arrangement directly between the employer and the employee. In the Philippines, it is not widely used for the main work arrangement remains traditional. However, there has been a widespread overhaul of the traditional practices in work arrangement when the COVID-19 pandemic adversely affected the world of work. Businesses and organizations were forced to immediately shift and adapt the use telework as a means to maintain employment and business operations. Despite this, there still lies the looming issue of how to properly implement it for the benefit of both the employer and the employees.
The webinar focused on teleworking and working conditions to effectively and efficiently implement it especially in the current context of the COVID-19. The ILO also introduced its ‘Practical Guide on Teleworking and Other Working Time Arrangement’. The Guide has three purposes: (1) provide practical and actionable recommendations for effective teleworking that are applicable to a wide range of actors, (2) to support policymakers in developing or updating existing teleworking policies and arrangements, and (3) to provide a flexible framework through which both private enterprises and public sector organizations can develop/update policies and practices.
Effective telework requires the dialogue and cooperation between the employer and his/her employees so that the two parties can come into terms by negotiating and balancing the interests. The method called ‘Managing by Results’ is worth highlighting because it proves to be the most effective method for managing telework for it allows workers who telework to have the autonomy to organize their work hours without the need for their managers to constantly monitor them. To ensure the well-being of workers and their productivity, these components are essential: (1) working time and work organization, (2) digitalization, (3) communication, (4) occupational safety and health (OSH), (5) regulatory and legal implication, (6) teleworker and manager training, and (7) work-life balance. These 8 components are discussed in-depth in order to provide the participants further understanding about telework.
The gender dimension of telework during COVID-19 has also been mentioned. Since the onset of the pandemic, the socio-economic gender-related inequalities and challenges became amplified. It becomes the reason to be more sensitive to factor in the gender dimension in work arrangements.
It is said that “a holistic approach to developing, designing, implementing, and assessing telework arrangements requires engagement by relevant government ministries, trade unions, and employer associations”. The various key measures have been identified and discussed one-by-one during the webinar.
The close cooperation and partnership of social partners are crucial in crafting a telework policy that is applicable across all business sectors and provides solutions across various telework-related issues and challenges.
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