PETROLEUM prices are increasing around the world owing to various reasons, but bleeding economies, like the one we have in Pakistan, are the most vulnerable to these phenomenal and frequent increases. Pakistani rupee continues to take a nosedive against global currencies and is virtually in a state of free fall.
In such a scary situation where the country has alarmingly low foreign exchange reserves and the government has banned imports of luxury items, Pakistan badly needs a damage-control strategy, and needs it urgently.
To begin with, Pakistan should go for a three-day on-site work week just as some other countries have done. The rest of the week should be on a work-from-home basis to keep the momentum going. After all, people worked from home over much longer stretches during the Covid pandemic which taught the world how
to be more productive while saving commute time, physical energy and financial resources.
Indeed, the pandemic-led lockdowns had their own negative impact, but that was limited to certain sectors, like, say, the supply chain. And, of course, there are essential services and areas that demand round-the-clock physical presence of the employees, like hotels, hospitals, airlines, banks, etc. But there is a massive area where the work-from-home option can and should be implemented rather seamlessly.
This will give a lifeline to shrinking household budgets, reduce the corporate cost of doing business, and, indeed, help the national economy in terms of cutting down fuel import expenses. Additionally, less commuters on the roads will mean fewer traffic jams, which, in turn, will
save the fuel one burns while stuck in a logjam. There are apparently no losers in the equation.
Taking advantage of technological development, multinational giants during the pandemic forced their employees to work from home, and once the threat was no more, they encouraged the employees to continue to do so. Why? Because the pandemic taught us a new way of life that was efficient and convenient.
There is no bar on the corporate sector to take the initiative on its own and implement the plan after taking care of the specific needs of individual enterprises, but it will help if the government may officially promote such a policy and nudge the corporate sector in this direction. It will be a win-win situation for all.
Shuja Ahmed Awan
Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2022