Public-private partnership important to promote telecommuting in the Philippines

[Updated] A study found that the traffic congestion in Metro Manila costs the economy PHP2.4 billion daily in business losses, opportunity costs, high personal expenses, and lost income.

By Adrian M. Reodique
Nov. 15, 2016

[Story updated on 15 November 2016 at 12:10 PM to include the panel discussion during the event].  

Collaboration between the public and private sectors, as well as an enabling environment for public policy, are important to promote the concept of telecommuting in the Philippines, according to Secretary Ernesto Abella, Presidential Spokesperson.

"For example, the private sector's partnership with the government sector aims to develop and provide ICT solutions, lasting systems, ICT-based traffic management, parking management, carpooling, and installation of high-speed Wi-Fi zones along congested roads. These are incremental efforts to mitigate the traffic crisis as the government continues to expand and improve the road network and public transport of the country," said Abella in his keynote message at the first Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) Summit last Tuesday (8 November 2016).

In a study released by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in September 2014, it was found that the massive traffic gridlock in Metro Manila costs the economy PHP2.4 billion daily in "business losses, opportunity costs, high personal expenses and lost income owing to the loss of time and decreased productivity," said Abella.

In line, he noted that ICT can provide necessary intervention to mitigate the traffic congestion across the country. "For example, employees can telecommute, instead of physically travelling and thereby help unclog blocked traffic arteries," Abella explained.

He added telecommuting may come in forms of teleworking, telepresence, and telelearning which involves the use of IT and communication solutions - such as video conference - to work or study remotely.

"Public schools and government learning centres can allow students and faculty to hold classes and school activities without being physically together on campus," said Abella. "This is especially helpful for community-based learning, TESDA [Technical Education and Skills Development Authority] courses and continuing adult education," he said.  

"Since telecommuting technologies [are] broadband, internet-based, DICT is facilitating and accelerating public access to the internet [by] expanding the broadband structure throughout the county, ensuring connectivity and lower costs for high-speed, remote and mobile access," he added.

Adopting telecommuting in the workplace

Brian Cu, Country Manager of Grab, and Shashank Luthra, Business Development Director for Digital Transformation Office of Cisco Systems, agreed the adoption of telecommuting requires a culture open for this work setting.

"It starts from the leadership for the company and creating a culture that is open to telecommuting," said Cu during the panel discussion.

Meanwhile, Jose Mari Mercado, National Technology Officer for Microsoft Philippines, noted adopting telecommuting is not easy as it requires additional investment however the benefits that businesses can get from this trend outweighs the reasons that keep them from investing.

"Employers have to provide the employees with tools, with the facilities in order to be productive wherever they are and employees have to learn to discipline themselves [to work even not in the office]," Mercado added.