With soaring fuel costs and heavy traffic resuming in the metropolitan areas of the country, the Telecommuting Act which was signed into law in 2018 has become top-of-mind as various sectors expressed support for continuing alternative work arrangements. This law allows those in the private sector to work “from an alternative workplace with the use of telecommunications and/or computer technologies.”
While the law was affected in 2018, it was the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and the subsequent lockdowns that led the government, private and even public sector employers to rapidly and extensively implement alternative work arrangements such as work-from-home (WFH) and hybrid (partly on-site, partly WFH) models. For instance, export enterprises such as the IT-BPM industry which is the second largest revenue contributor to the Philippine economy with 1.4 million workers, is one of the industries that successfully deployed this approach. The IT-BPM Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) has appealed the latest decision of the FIRB regarding WFH, and is in constant coordination with relevant government stakeholders to elucidate the industry’s position. IBPAP has put forward all relevant points that relate to the business efficiency, staff benefits, socio-cultural and economic considerations of a WFH as well as hybrid arrangement.
One employer in this industry is customer experience solutions and technology leader Concentrix, whose WFH population is already approx. 60,0000 staff – over 60% of its Philippines team today. According to Amit Jagga, SVP and Country Leader of Concentrix Philippines, “Our Philippines team operates 24/7 in support of clients and customers in multiple time zones across 4 continents. For a company of that scale, the cost of fuel and vehicle utilization adds to the urban traffic problem and subsequent loss of productivity in USD $ millions. Concentrix has been operating alternative work arrangements that are not just WFH but including Community Hubs and micro-sites that reflect a hybrid approach, and have proven over the last 2 years that productivity levels among staff are at par with traditional on-site office operations. This allowed us to continue to grow and generate significant revenue for the Philippine economy.”
Concentrix is not only the country’s largest private employer with a nationwide presence. It is also the recipient of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) Awards as Best Company, Best Employer, Best Foreign-Owned Company and Best BPO Contact Center for two years in a row in 2020 and 2021.
“Alternative work arrangements provide unique benefits for our industry and people as we operate continuously, are disaster-resilient, global-customer facing and technology-driven by nature. It is also timely considering the current global issue of rising fuel costs that would be financially detrimental to a return-to-office approach, not just for businesses but for staff themselves to bear. Our clients and their customers around the world have embraced alternative work and alternative modes of customer contact which provide a superior experience for them. If potentially higher fiscal taxes in the Philippines are imposed for WFH and hybrid-work employers like Concentrix, this action will erode our country’s attractiveness to foreign investors who are looking for partners who have scale and flexibility in operations and staffing. We truly believe that flexible work models are key to ensuring the Philippines’ global competitiveness, represent a progressive way to the future, and should be strengthened and encouraged,” Amit further mentions.
The positive global trend of flexible work models has been cited since 2012, in a report published by Regus called Flexibility Drives Productivity, citing that “72% of global businesses report that increased productivity is a direct result of flexible working practices while 68% of interviewed firms stated that flexible working has led to staff generating increased revenue. This is particularly true in emerging economies that appear to have made flexible working a key part of their development.”
Therefore, given the right environment, export enterprises will continue to thrive. A factor that will help propel this is to adopt global work trends such as flexible and hybrid work models, that are also widely embraced by the global principals of local players and by the clients and customers they serve. This is the way forward according to industry association IBPAP and companies like Concentrix, urging the government to allow continuation of alternative work arrangements whether it be WFH or hybrid, in order to support employment and industry growth, decongestion of metros and conservation of resources, lower cost of living, and to spread revenue generation to the rest of the nation.