BPO sector discussing hybrid work arrangement to remain competitive: group

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2022 11:52 AM

MANILA - The IT-Business Process Management (IT-BPM) sector is in talks with concerned agencies and stakeholders on possible "hybrid work arrangements" as it seeks a smoother return to on-site setup, a group said Wednesday.

IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) CEO Jack Madrid clarified that despite the government's order for ecozone locators to go back to physical sites, over 440 firms have been granted letters of authority (LOA) by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA), which allowed remote work for 30 percent of their workforce. 

Business process outsourcing (BPO) is part of the IT-BPM sector, which directly employs some 1.4 million Filipinos in total.

"We are conducting ongoing discussions on what the work from home hybrid arrangements will look like. I have always appealed for a smooth transition for on-site operations... This is necessary to retain the competitiveness of the country as an investment destination," Madrid said.

"All we have really sought while complying with the law is really smooth transition back, allowing over 1 million of employees who have been working from home during the pandemic, a smoother transition to on-site," he added.

Madrid also appealed to tax inspectors not confuse the LOAs with failure to abide by the government order to return to on-site work. The LOAs are valid until September, he added. 

He also reiterated that the work-from-home setup did not diminish work productivity and quality during the pandemic, He said at least 120,000 jobs were added in 2021 alone, which means there is continued demand for talent. 

"Overall productivity and satisfaction during the pandemic actually improved... Our industry has proven that we are more than capable of delivering quality of service to customers around the world," Madrid said. 

"So I see no better proof that this hybrid work from home model works...There is no end for the demand for Filipino talents," he added. 

BPOs transitioned to remote work during the height of the pandemic. But the government had asked companies to return on-site or lose tax incentives as the law requires locators to conduct activities within ecozones, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez earlier said.