As the Philippines eases out of one of the world’s longest lockdowns to give way for economic recovery, businesses are trying to figure out how to deal with the new work cultures that emerged during the pandemic. 

With the lifting of travel restrictions, employers are now challenged to choose which work setup promotes productivity better. Are the non-traditional work setups worth keeping even after the pandemic or should the employers start calling their employees to report back to their respective offices?

Here are some work setups adapted by industry leaders that may provide their fellow entrepreneurs some insight on how they can ease into the new normal still together with their businesses and their employees.

Reporting to office

For Market Reach International Resources, a supply chain and distribution business, the choice to return to the old-school report-to-work setup is not driven by mere sentiment. It was more of a response to a need.

“Nobody had an emergency or contingency plan for this pandemic. A lot of companies quickly adapted social distancing, remote work, and limited hours of operation. During the pandemic, we settled with what worked best for us. Our team work in the office at different times spread out throughout the day,” shares Market Reach CEO and Founder, Jatin Lalwani. 

When asked whether they will keep the same setup after the easing or lifting of pandemic restrictions, Lalwani explains that they have to revert to the usual full office-setting work. 

“Our style of working would be dictated by consumer behavior. For sure, we will employ any modern means to make our work more efficient and safe, but we have to meet the needs of our clients. Our duty is to ensure that products keep flowing and moving. Of course, while keeping a proper eye on our team’s physical and mental wellbeing.”

Hybrid setup

“Our business would not allow us to go 100% virtual in our work setup,” explains PhilCare President Jaeger Tanco. PhilCare is a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) in the Philippines. By being part of the health sector, its employees play a crucial role in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

According to Tanco, PhilCare’s service requires person-to-person interaction. “We deal with people. Our representatives have to engage our clients when they approach us and ask for our assistance. It’s being able to connect and establish that personal relationship that makes our work better,” shares Tanco.

Prior to the pandemic, PhilCare has already been advancing its proposition of technology-enabled healthcare for its clients. It has released its own app to make most of its services mobile. It has been promoting the use of telemedicine in the Philippines. With this tech infrastructure already integrated in PhilCare’s operations, Tanco still believes that a good mix of virtual and traditional office setup works best for them.

He explains, “in dealing with our co-workers and with our clients, infusing that element of care makes it much easier to connect and reach favorable outcomes. Technology gets things done, but it has not reached that level that it can effectively convey emotions that can only be achieved through person-to-person interaction.”

Going completely virtual

Breakthrough Leadership Management Consultancy, Inc. is one of those that were able to shift to a full virtual work setup during the pandemic. With all the training and equipment, they invested to allow their staff to work from home, the company sees the full virtual work setup as a sustainable way to maintain their operations moving forward.

“We are among the top professional training providers in the country. During the pandemic, our business got put on hold as our big conference and training engagements got cancelled. We just had to make drastic changes immediately, or else we’re going to lose our business,” confides Breakthrough Leadership President and Chief Equipping Officer Boris Joaquin.

Alongside the shift to full virtual work, Breakthrough Leadership decided to recalibrate their business model by being more present for their clients online. The company ditched its office in favor of promoting their full virtual work setup. For the company, going back to normal means having a company that embraces innovation and change. 

“Moving to a full virtual work setup is a test of leadership, more than anything. Having the right IT infrastructure and training your co-workers to maximize the tools given to them are just a few of the things that companies should consider when implementing the virtual work setup.” 

Source: Manila Bulletin (