I have managed our small business for 5 years and have only now decided to make a staff house for our head office core team.
The idea has been one year in the making, from the time that I have been looking around the area, negotiating with brokers, and finally putting the money down.
Why We Decided to have a Staff House
We decided to offer a staff house to our core team this year. The unit is small, around 46 sqm, and our plan is to house around 5 to 6 people.
While it is admittedly a bit crowded, it is still a far cry to our staff’s current residences.
1) Most staff, not just ours, live far away from their places of work.
For example, Staff A lives in Rodriguez, Rizal.
Theoretically, her home is one hour away from our head office but it usually takes her at least two hours of commute to reach one way. Hence, she spends around 4 hours of her day commuting back and to work.
2) Most staff suffer from Manila’s famous “Carmageddon”
One staff has to wake up around 5:30am to get to the office by 8:30am.
She lives in the South, and the traffic from Alabang to where we are is horrendous in the morning. No wonder when she gets to work, she’s already exhausted!
It’s traffic everywhere. And since you have to switch rides to commute, you can’t really sleep in the bus/jeep/tricycle. No wonder they are exhausted when they get to work!
3) Because most staff need a series of different rides to get to the office, the expenses do pile up and consists of at least 20% of their salary. Most staff do not have one single way to get from Point A to Point B.
A jeepney ride cost Php 9 per ride. A bus around Php 20 per way. MRT is around Php 20-25 a way. Hence, mixing it all together, the commute cost do add up, taking a toll on the staff’s time, effort and budget.
To get to the office for example, Filipino commuters need to take a sequence of tricycle to the main road, taking a jeep to the highway, and then boarding a bus to their destination before walking to the office.
A staff house, which is only a 5-minute walk to the office can save my staff around Php 120 minimum per day, or Php 3,120.00 per month. That’s assuming it’s only Php 60 one way.
Why Only Now Get a Staff House? Why not Before?
We’ve only decided to get a staff house after the company could afford it.
When I started managing the company, it was operating at a loss. Our sales was just enough to cover our rent, and my in-laws, who started the business, had to infuse money regularly just to keep the shop afloat. People who knew the company before wondered whether the company would even survive given that our costs were higher than our sales.
When I came in, our first efforts were made to stabilize the company. We watched our costs tightly, and expanded our stores strategically in an effort to increase our sales. Sales was the one who saved us, and through working together, the team managed to keep the business afloat, and we managed to eek out a small profit to continue on.
After our sales steadily grew, we took a 10-year loan to buy our head office. The revenues we made sufficiently covered our mortgage with a few thousand pesos left to spare. Now, our head office only needs 5 more years to fully pay the loan off, and we are really proud that we managed to buy a “home” for all of us through sheer blood, sweat and tears.
After paying for the office, the thought of a Staff House popped into our head.
We knew that our staff — like many Filipino workers — experienced the same issues of getting to work on time. Sure, we paid them fairly, but the commute time, effort and money do take a toll on people’s morale.
After managing the business for half a decade, we sincerely believed that through trial and error, this is a team we could invest in. We saw how many of them were suffering without complaint through their daily commute, and even though they did not ask for it, we wanted to give something back to them for their loyalty and hard work.
I think an important factor was that they did not ask for this.
If they did, that would make them entitled. It is not our, or any employer’s obligation to provide housing for their staff, even though it is by subsidy. However, the fact that they did not ask for it, and have experienced hours-long commutes and bedspaces without exhaust fans or windows, gave us some encouragement that this is the right thing to do for our staff.
The opportunity came after I saw in OLX a property that was reasonably priced.
It was an answer given by God, gave at a perfect time. The price was reasonable and included all the taxes, and the unit while simple was love at first sight.
“We’ll take it,” I told the broker during the visit.
Everything was signed within the week and we set to repair and repainted over the lat few weeks.
This is the final result:
I like what we did to that place.
It’s newly painted, the appliances are half brand new, half second hand, and there’s an aircon for hot days. Sure, it’s not Forbes Park, but it should do.
It’s not big, but it’s clean and cozy. There’s enough amenities most staff do not have to enjoy when they are not at work. It’s a stone throw away from the biggest malls in the Philippines so the location is extremely convenient.
Most importantly, the unit is less than 5 minutes walk from the office so any staff who stay there saves a lot of time, expense and energy to get to work.
I think the road from bringing a company back from the red, to providing a staff house is a very interesting one.
We are not the richest and biggest company in the block, but I feel that a staff house is a step to the right direction as the company grows. You have to treat your staff right as well, if you want them to treat you right.
So giving them a staff house is a blessing all around, and if the company does well, of course, you would want them to also reap the blessing.
Can’t wait to see what other things the Lord will give us.
Have a great week ahead!