Peoplepods Philippines and MyTown coauthored a white paper that sets forth the key guiding principles and methodologies for dormitories to follow their footsteps in health and safety planning. This aims to support the sector in prioritizing worker safety in the challenging environment under COVID-19.
Healthier and safer worker housing is an essential form of dignified and affordable accommodation, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. This is a key finding from industry experts that collaborated with PeoplePods, a Philippine dormitory brand for female industrial workers; MyTown, a Philippine co-living company for young professionals; and INSEAD, a top global business school.
The findings are available in an e-book entitled “CoLiving Safety and Sanitation Handbook,” which discusses best practices in safety and sanitation for co-living operators during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is freely available to the public on the websites of PeoplePods and MyTown.
“I’m very happy to support this project which gathers best practices and leverages research insights to improve the wellbeing and safety of precarious workers,” said Alexandra Roulet, assistant professor at INSEAD.
The authors consulted with experts from INSEAD, the University of Oxford, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, an NGO for Singapore migrant workers, the World Health Organization and local authorities.
Dan Layug, founder of PeoplePods, said: “PeoplePods dormitories are designed to offer space and ventilation to its tenants. When the pandemic hit, the management team felt it was their duty to ensure it provided tenants with a healthier space. Working with industry experts and interns Giselle Teixeira and Roos Nijzing from INSEAD Business School, we developed a comprehensive list of measures to mitigate the risks of outbreaks in our communities, from cleaning protocols to social distancing guidelines and incentives.”
Prevention and response framework
The white paper further shows that co-living and dormitory operators are encouraged to implement a thorough prevention and response framework against the pandemic, and that doing so does not have to impact the sustainability of its business model.
It highlights that whereas most property operators tend to focus on implementing coronavirus mitigation measures inside their premises, equally important are the need to educate and communicate with the tenant population and prepare detailed response plans for a wide range of worst-case scenarios.
The handbook provides helpful insight into how other operators can become more resilient and continue to provide a safe and sanitary space to young professionals and migrant workers alike.
“PeoplePods provides dignified and sustainable dorms that focus on healthier and safer housing. We believe that it is our moral obligation to provide healthier and safer protocols and processes to mitigate the risks of the pandemic not just in our own communities, but also to share our best practices with others for the common good,” said Layug.
“As one of the key players in Southeast Asian co-living, we believe we have a responsibility to collaborate with content experts and implement best practices not just in our own community, but also share these with the wider co-living sector,” said Jelmer Ikink, group director at PULS, which is behind the MyTown brand.
Essential to business continuity
Business continuity has been seen as a top priority during the pandemic and many employers have found that employee accommodation in close proximity to the workplace ensures continued operations when public transportation options are limited and operating at reduced capacity.
The same holds for employees whose income is dependent on being able report to work affordably and on time.
Similarly, workplace wellness has been at front and center for both employers and employees. The white paper finds that co-living can reduce the risk of community infections as the average daily number of people a co-living tenant is in contact with is up to 98% lower when compared to someone who relies on cramped and enclosed public transportation options.
Moreover, a well-rested workforce is more likely to have a strong immune system that can fight a viral infection.
PeoplePods provides dignified co-living accommodation to female industrial workers by partnering with industrial park developers for projects that lease accommodation to employers. Manufacturers improve productivity and business continuity, while employees see improvements in health and happiness. PeoplePods is the first developer to receive regulatory approval for rental accommodations inside a Philippine economic zone, and provides women not just with decent facilities, but a place where they can live with dignity. PeoplePods is supported by UNDP Philippines and PhilDev, with generous support from the Australian Embassy in the Philippines through the ISIP accelerator program.
Established in 2012, MyTown is now one of the largest asset-heavy co-living companies globally and a pioneer in co-living in the Philippines. With over 4,500 beds in its portfolio in the Philippines, MyTown has 18 purpose-built properties with unparalleled amenities as of 2020.