by Jolan S. Villalobos

Posted on 2021-01-15



The Covid-19 Pandemic – one of the biggest disruptor humankinds has seen so far and has brought unprecedented change. However, crises are also great opportunities to unleashed new possibilities and transformations. Companies have transitioned from the traditional workplace into the virtual workplace on short notice.

According to industry leaders, most people agree that impressive salaries, light workloads and months of vacation time are important reasons for valuing their jobs. However, employees prefer workplace perks with more long-term benefits. Here are some tips for creating a supportive virtual workplace:

1.       BE FLEXIBLE 

Long before the pandemic, employees wanted flexible work. FlexJobs’ 2019 survey found that 30% of respondents quit their job because it does not offer flexible work arrangements, and 16% were looking for a job that offered it. However, the current situation has escalated remote working at a rapid pace.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working describes a type of working arrangement that gives a degree of flexibility on how long, where, when, and at what times employees should work. There are many forms of flexible working, as per DOLE labor advisory no. 09 – 2020 includes a reduction of working hours/workdays, rotation of workers, and force leave.

Flexible working can be formal (and part of the contract of employment) or informal – agreed between the employee and their employers and taking place on an ad-hoc or occasional basis (short term or long-term arrangement).

In the Philippines, did you know that the Solo Parent Act (Republic Act 8972) provides for flexible working hours for Solo Parents? Aside from that, the Republic Act 11165 or the Telecommuting Act which telecommuting refers to a work arrangement that allows an employee in the private sector to work from an alternative workplace (a location other than the traditional office) with the use of telecommunication or computer technologies.

One positive outcome during this Pandemic is the opportunity for the business managers to be creative in encouraging productivity with flexibility.  In which at the same time, it benefits the employees to have more quality time not only in work, but also in personal life particularly with family related matters.

What Could Work Look Like?

Though some businesses start to resume operations, social distancing measures remain strictly in place. The stats indicate that remote work may be the future.

The Glassdoor study also found that 60% of respondents feel that they can do their jobs effectively no matter how long they have to remotely and that 50% of them are finding that they are as or more productive working at home. One poll found that 35% of workers don’t miss the office at all.

Employees said they have worked from home in the last seven days because of COVID-19 concerns, and 54% of employers plan on allowing flexible work arrangements once the pandemic has passed


A virtual workplace is not limited to the software only, besides keeping employees informed, frequent communication reminds employees that they are part of the team. Adopt an open-door policy as this allows for:

a.      An open flow of communication;  

b.      Accessibility; 

c.      Closer working relationships; and

d.      Fast access to information.

Besides, your team is not working in person right now, so nearly all communication happens digitally. That means you have to learn how to communicate effectively through technology, which isn't easy.

To solve this problem, you can introduce one common platform where your team members can collaborate and discuss their ideas. Use “Microsoft Teams” calls for team meetings and one-on-one discussion, Skype chat for quick questions, and company email for important announcements.

Employees also need clear goals and career paths right now; we don’t want uncertainty at work, especially during this pandemic.

It is a leader’s job to communicate newly form policies and hold everyone accountable. The more communicative you can be, the better.


The top 5 forms of recognition include certificates of recognition, cash, gift certificates, food, and company merchandise. However, seventy percent (70%) of employees say that meaningful recognition has no monetary value, and this is especially true for the rising millennial workforce.

Receiving praise and thanks gives employees an added boost to work harder. You can recognize your employees in a variety of simple ways:

a.    Take time to thank each employee by name.

b.    Cite the specific reason for the recognition. This reinforces positive behavior.

c.     Explain how their work made you proud.

d.    Show how their effort added value to the company.

Providing engaging work environments, status-based recognition, and fun can be more beneficial than tangible rewards.


Only 39% of employees feel that there are sufficient internal career opportunities in the workplace. Studies show that internal promotions reduce turnover and increase productivity. Companies can provide professional development by:

a.   Upskilling employees by offering online certification training;

b.   Offering company scholarships or reimbursing costs for continuing education and training;

c.   Creating opportunities for employees to connect and network with other professionals in their field;

d.   Establishing a graduate scheme to fast-track promising alumni, and

e.   Adopting a mentorship program.

Different companies call development programs differently such as Future Leaders Program, Management/ Supervisory Leadership programs, and the like. The important thing is that such programs should be continually reviewed to stay relevant with the current situation so that future leaders are kept aligned with the vision of the company.

This pandemic should not stop us from learning new skills, even just by learning how to cook, do laundry, and how to paint. The situation let us discover our hidden talents too.


According to 90% of workers, the most valued attributes in workplace relationships are honesty, trust and fairness. Trust can be fostered by:

a.  Proactively building interpersonal trust – managers can help encourage personal connections by starting meetings with a chance for team members to chat about their professional and personal lives (e.g., a simple how are you, what they did over the weekend, what movie they recently watched or plan to watch, how their task/assignment are going, etc.)

b.   Communicating with Predictability – regular communication means fellow team members can rely on team mates to respond within a reasonable amount of time.

Be as transparent as possible with your employees; let them know how the pandemic affects business. They are not just worried about their health and families right now, assure employees that they have jobs.


People may not like giving negative feedback, but everyone wants to hear it, as long as it is constructive. Effective feedback lets employees know how they are meeting their goals. Ensure feedback is:

a.   Timely – address issues when they arise; and

b.   Focus on the future - avoid too much criticism of the past. In other words, move on.

Be optimistic; it would help if you shared this positivity with your team. It will help in improving productivity and create a sense of trust in your organization.


Employees who are able to find meaning and purpose within their roles are healthier, happier and more productive. Ninety-one percent (91%) of workers who say their company has a strong sense of purpose also say their company has a history of strong financial performance.

8.    HAVE FUN

The social distancing and enforced isolation, as well as massive job losses and uncertain future, is more than anything that meets the eye – an unseen pain that takes a toll on the minds of those reeling from the situation. During this crisis, physical health was emphasized while mental health was overlooked.

Some of our employees are living alone are vulnerable to feeling isolated while working at home. HR can introduce online fun games and activities to stay connected and help ease the anxiety and depression caused by social isolation. After all, laughter is a great bonding experience.

a.      Logo guessing game of well-known brands and services.

b.      Ordering for everyone and hosting a virtual team lunch.

c.      Delivering milk teas or smoothies for a Friday happy hour.

It is always the desire of any business organization & the employees to have a great workplace.  During the start of the Pandemic which forced everyone to be in quarantine, that desire was overcome with our instinct to survive with at least having only the basic things we need.  Particularly during the time when thing get tougher, majority is just being satisfied even with the minimum resources.  But just like with the other living things, we eventually evolved on the environment around us.  Most likely at this point, most of us already adapted in what we call now the “New Normal”.  Naturally, we will desire once again to live in a convenient, comfortable & abundant environment.  That is our nature even in our working environment too.  We want it always great!  Is it possible in the New Normal environment?  Well… the above great ideas were some we can immediately implement.  I believe there are some more we can think of, depending on how far our creative imagination is.  It doesn’t matter whether it is initiated by the business owners, the managers, or even an ordinary employee.  But what matter most is, it is beneficial to both and everyone can say… “I’m happy with it”.  That’s what will makes our Workplace GREAT!