Combined effect

It’s all about hybrid these days — hybrid work, hybrid learning, hybrid cars.

Or synergy: Defined by Oxford as “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.”

Combining forces, being a team, deriving strength from each other — not many of us may have considered it, but this is another effect of the pandemic.

To say the pandemic really disrupted our lives is putting it mildly. It rattled and shook and changed the way people thought and did things. To some extent, it made us more receptive to change, or less opposed to new ways of doing things.

To begin with, when then-frontrunner Bongbong Marcos began advocating the idea of unity (unheard of in Philippine politics where changing colors is the norm), people at first doubted his sincerity. Then he began appointing individuals to government positions without rejecting outright those who used to have affiliations with former opposition parties or critics.

To the observer, his moves have been inclusive rather than divisive — and this idea of working together, synergizing efforts and expertise for one common goal appeals like nothing else has, at least in these times, for our colorful archipelago.

These days, people seem more willing to give the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. a chance.

“Their success is our success as a nation,” opined former Transportation Secretary Art Tugade in yesterdays Straight Talk with Daily Tribune.

There are many plans, programs and innovative ideas, as we heard from the President himself during his first State of the Nation Address.

Yet how are people on the ground nowadays?

President Marcos has been trying to cushion ordinary folks from these economically uncertain times. He took on the mantle of agriculture to help poor folks survive the price increases and possible food shortages.

He “promised subsidies to farmers, a network of farm-to-market roads, and the use of innovation as part of ambitious reforms for the agriculture sector,” says a report on Nikkei Asia.

Jobs will be available through an expansion of infrastructure projects, and another synergy of sorts — the public-private partnership program that would help empower workers striving to keep themselves and their families afloat amid threatening factors affecting food supply, health, mobility.

Underneath all these government and private sector plans to uplift the lives of citizens, daily realities like work life and school life continue to challenge many people. It’s safe to say that there would be nothing of the “post-pandemic” return to normalcy. We ARE still in a pandemic, and viruses and new diseases continue to restrict certain freedoms everyone used to enjoy.

There is no recourse: Government, companies and institutions need to consider all the changes to the lives of people these past two-and-a-half years really wrought.

While the hybrid work setup is not yet widely practiced in the Philippines, other countries have begun to embrace this arrangement, where workers are able to manage costs of their food and transport, for example, by limiting the number of days they are on-site. Some studies have found that productivity also increases in such a setup, with travel time (and socializing) lessened. In the same way, companies are able to cut costs on real estate. Of course, such a setup needs a strong Internet connection and the proper gadgets, as we saw during the first year of the online schooling program.

The same hybrid situation is being argued about in the realm of education. While the Department of Education has called for a hundred-percent face-to-face classes for all schools, many parents remain hesitant about the idea as it would expose their children to the dreaded virus. Others simply dread the traffic — something we would really rather not experience anymore.

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