Remote work dragged by poor ICT

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    Digital shift. Filipinos prefer to work near their homes and not from home where internet connection is poor and space is limited.

    Members of the newly-formed remote workforce have cited lack of adequate work space and poor information and communication technology infrastructure as the key challenges in this new working environment, a report of the Oxford Business Group (OBG) said.

    With the new coronavirus disease 2019 pushing companies to turn to co-working spaces and work-from-home arrangements to ensure business continuity, OBG said the digital shift increased strain on bandwidth in a country where internet speeds remain behind regional peers.

    The country’s average download speed for fixed broadband was 26.08 Mbps in September, compared to 226.60 in Singapore, 175.22 in Thailand and 138.66 Mbps in China, according to Ookla’s Speedtest Global Index.

    “In the Philippines people want to work near home, but not from home,” Lars Wittig, country manager of Regus and Spaces by IWG, told OBG. “This is because at home the internet connection is often poor, and it is not always easy to carve out a dedicated work space amid the noise from the neighborhood.”

    Given this lack of suitable space at home, co-working spaces could be poised to fill the void, OBG said.

    Companies also look to reorganize the workforce and cut real estate costs. In turn co-working spaces have reduced capacity, created buffer zones, and reinforced cleaning and personal hygiene practices.

    OBG said shared spaces operator WeWork Philippines reported its enterprise memberships expanded by 10 percent between the lockdown period of March to July as large firms made flexible alternative arrangements for employees. Despite being down from the 25 percent expansion seen last year, this signalled co-working spaces have a role to play in the recovery.

    “The pandemic sparked a new trend in the Philippines – one towards working not from home, but near home,” Jet Yu, founder and chief executive officer of commercial real estate consultancy PRIME Philippines, told OBG.”

    OBG quoted Wittig as saying the pandemic has led to an emphasis on flexibility in terms of workstations and working-from-home solutions

    “Even before the outbreak of Covid-19 the co-working segment was booming. When the pandemic is over, people will no longer want to go to crowded downtown areas and, as such, suburban and provincial areas will see the most significant growth. At the same time, many large companies are looking to complement headquarters with satellite offices near employees’ homes – a trend that is likely to benefit co-working spaces,” Wittig said.