It’s about time we stopped wasting money on commuting

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KRISTEL SILANG

Many professionals rejoiced at the thought of being protected by the law when deployed to a remote assignment by their employers. This has been announced as Senate Bill 1363, or the Telecommuting Act of 2017, approved on final reading by the Senate earlier this week.

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It is expected to ease up the heavy flow of traffic in Metro Manila since telecommuting would mean fewer people on the roads. The 2016 Waze Driver Satisfaction Index indicated that from a scale of 1 for miserable to 10 for satisfactory, Manila got a ranking of 0.33. The sub-categories taken into consideration for this rating were the traffic jam length and the difficulty of commuting from home to work.

It’s no wonder that in the 2016 Freelancer Survey done by Freelancing Philippines, one of the largest freelancing communities in the country, 47 percent of the respondents were from Metro Manila.

This does not come as a surprise because according to the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines, Inc., there was an all-time high in car sales in the Philippines at 417,356 cars. While this is potentially making the life of commuters easier by sitting through traffic in an air-conditioned vehicle while commuting, the big-picture effect of clogging up the streets is inevitable.

But more than just reducing the commuting time on one’s way to work, this gives a lot of value to remote workers in terms of cash savings. As of May 16, 2017, diesel cost P26.70-P31.91 per liter and gasoline cost P37.65-P49.80. The long travel time also equates to reduced productivity in the office since workers are stressed from a 2-3 hour travel time prior to working. That’s already equal to 25 percent to 37.5 percent of the standard eight-hour workday even before work starts.

An overlooked aspect of that is the health issue, given that driving home late and waking up early just to avoid heavy traffic in going to work could creep in and take a toll on one’s health. If the employee pays for the cost of a medical check-up for stress-related illnesses, such cost could range from P500 to P800. Buying the prescribed medicine could mean an additional cost of between P500 and P3,000, but that could be avoided if one does not have to go through the stress of the long commute.

These costs are applicable across the board. Whether you’re a C-level executive or a rank-and-file employee, we all travel the same roads and endure the same monstrous traffic every day.

This is a big step for more companies to take, to open up to telecommuting, and for employees to stop wasting money on expenses just to get to their place of work, which is not covered by any insurance or package of employment benefits.

Kristel Silang is content manager at MoneyMax.ph, a financial comparison website aiming to help Filipinos save money through diligent comparisons of financial products.

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