Ask people about their “new normal” amid the pandemic, and chances are you’ll get many answers about working from home. While remote work has been the norm among freelancers and in certain industries even before the lockdown, it has moved from alternative to mainstream as a result of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). Many workplaces are suddenly adjusting their operations to keep their businesses up and running.

UNAWA’s third free webinar, “Navigating the New Normal: Employee Welfare in a Remote Work Environment,” trained the spotlight on these issues and shared how business owners and leaders can keep the entire team engaged, productive, and well-adjusted while working from home. The panel featured representatives from the business, medical, and legal sectors who shared insights on how businesses can optimize their remote work setups.

In this article, we compiled one insight from each of our panelists on how SMEs and startups can better implement their remote working setups.

1. Find a daily schedule that works for you.

At its inception, game development company Altitude Games founded by Gabby Dizon in 2012 already implemented a remote work setup for 80% of its employees. The set up has been welcomed by many to the point that Gabby is now recognized in many other webinars for leading this remote working experience. 

One tip he shared in UNAWA’s webinar is for employees who are new to the remote working setup is to add structure to their daily routine. While an office-based setup automatically provides this structure, a home-based setup will need employees to create and adopt a structure that allows them to adjust to a remote working setup and achieve work-life balance.

“One of the things that we tell our team is to be able to create a structure for themselves, between what time they wake up, …prepare their breakfast, …do focused work [and] meetings, [and time] block[ed] off for their kids or family,” shared Dizon. “Without that kind of schedule or structure for yourself, it will be hard to thrive in a home-based environment.”

Employers should also be mindful of these schedules and help their employees adapt as much as possible. They can implement flexible working hours to account for more variation in schedules, and they can make sure that all communication lines are monitored in such a way that they are not used to outside of an employee’s schedule.

2. Explore collaborative ways to promote employee welfare remotely.

With working from home being an unfamiliar experience for most employees, some of your team may have difficulty adjusting to the new normal. Employees who are used to having casual conversations or hanging out with their workmates, for example, no longer have those outlets. This can lead to undue stress and feelings of loneliness.

Emma Guevarra, people director at multinational outsourcing firm TaskUs, revealed that the company has resorted to more creative ways of boosting morale while almost all of their employees are working from home. For one, most of their wellness activities, such as yoga and Zumba sessions, transitioned from in-person to a virtual platform, with many employees around the world joining in their video conferences to these sessions.

Guevarra also revealed that the company’s president releases wellness videos every week to help employees cope with the remote working setup. TaskUs has also established a website dedicated to helping their employees achieve “work-life harmony”.

“Even before COVID, we [have really been] advocating for a work-life alignment. You just need to set the boundaries, and the leaders respect that,” said Guevarra. “We continue that practice and culture even virtually.”

3. Executives should promote employee wellness efforts.

Following on from Guevarra’s sharing of her company’s practices, Suzy Roxas, a life and career strategist, highlighted another important factor that makes TaskUs’s activities work. Roxas pointed out that it was important that these employee wellness initiatives are either being promoted by the company’s executives, or are led by the executives themselves.

For Roxas, this setup allows employees to more easily integrate these programs into their daily schedules, which leads to them prioritizing their welfare. Business owners and leaders are best placed to set an example for the rest of their teams, as in an unfamiliar environment such as a remote working setup, employees will turn to their leaders for guidance more than ever.

“When the business leader is on top of the wellness program and he has a hand in measuring the quality or the importance of the wellness program and he holds everybody as part of the wellness program and actually participates in it, that buy-in automatically makes the employees value the wellness program, value well-being, and therefore join in the bandwagon,” explained Roxas. “As a result, you have a more flourishing work environment even in the time of stress.”

4. Analyze which parts of your operations can be done remotely.

While ideal, not every business can operate with every person working remotely. Some businesses require people to be on-site to be able to deliver their products and services properly, while others need to have an office-based team at all times. For these businesses, Atty. Regina Jacinto-Barrientos, managing and founding partner of award-winning law firm PJS Law, should think about how their workspaces can be more conducive to promoting a healthier environment.

“One of the things people should consider is analyzing their workspace,” reminded Jacinto-Barrientos. “Because there’s social distancing required, now you should determine how many people are in the room and if you need to be six feet apart. You need to analyze those things and consider moving people around, doing things, and even reconfiguring your office.”

Atty. Mona Dimalanta, CEO of UNAWA, adds that business owners should carefully examine their operations and determine which aspects can be done remotely. She believes that remote working strategies should be something that all business owners should think about when navigating the new normal.

“Break down your operations, …how you do your work, and take it up from there. What can be done remotely? What needs to be done in the office?” said Dimalanta. “There are also means like working in shifts to limit the number of people in the workplace at any given time.”

Make work-from-home work for you

While remote work has crept up on many businesses, it is nevertheless part of the new normal that employers and employees alike have to integrate into their lives. We hope that these tips can help you and your team craft a remote work strategy that can steer your business through the new normal while keeping your employees safe and healthy.

If you want to read more tips about working from home, Dizon shared a deck that goes over several tips and tricks on how your company can build an effective remote work strategy, which you can read here.


We hope this article was helpful. To get more information, insight, and inspiration,check out the other articles in UNAWA Explainer for more tips on how your business can navigate the new normal.