“Unplug, Zone out, Switch Off”; Rethinking Work-Life Balance in the Philippines

BY Jules Dalmacio Articles

“Unplug, Zone out, Switch Off”; Rethinking Work-Life Balance in the Philippines

Have you ever heard your manager concernedly tell you off and say “umuwi ka na (go home already)” after the shift is over? While it’s something almost unheard of in the Philippines, an Indian company has made rounds on linked in for taking this concept a up notch. In the Philippines, work-life balance is something that’s “good to have” but not really implemented.

Work life balance could have a lot of individual definition, especially for people who find themselves really comfortable just being at work. However, as the term suggest, it should entail equal priority for both work and personal time in your life. If you have to leave family issues at home when you’re at work, you should also be afforded the benefit of leaving work issues outside the workplace. Think of it as the “separation of work and time for self.”

In the Philippines, while a lot of organizations are starting to be more employee-centric, plenty more are still treating employees as commodified labor. When you’re in the service industry, you’re expected to be on call in case customer traffic suddenly surges. Offices expect you to never be late, but also never get off earlier, and staying off hours being the “norm” when it comes to being a “good” employee.


SoftGrid Computers made waves on LinkedIn for implementing a reminder system that locks-out employees from their computers when their shift is over. A notification will display on screen saying “WARNING!!! Your shift time is over. The office system will shut down in 10 mins. PLEASE GO HOME!”

On Facebook, a post featuring an unnamed offshore employee went viral. In the post, her employer asked them to “unplug, zone out, [and] switch off” after the employee committed to try to be on call in case of any work emergency while they are on leave. On twitter, the same photo was shared with the caption “PH EMPLOYERS LEFT THE GROUP” insinuating that most employers in the Philippines have a totally different mindset.

While having stringent “get out now” policies can be beneficial, it isn’t a blanket protocol that all jobs can have. Some jobs need more flexibility from employees like healthcare, education, IT, and risk management to name a few. However, there are other solutions to ensure that everyone can find work-life balance regardless of their industry. One such solution is being able to take time off uninterrupted by work emergencies.

While there are employers that put the wellbeing of their employees first, in the Philippines there are still a lot of work to be done (only during office hours). However, though a lot local companies still stick to traditional and rigidly toxic work culture, there are more opportunities for Filipinos to find jobs that afford them time for themselves.

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