Contact centers and business process outsourcing companies are eyeing an extension of the work-from-home set-up, in anticipation of the full reopening of economic and IT zones where they are mostly hosted by September 2021.
IT Business Process Association of the Philippines Inc. chairman Benedict Hernandez said the industry needed more time to prepare its workforce to venture out in the open.
“With the current condition, we were granted the emergency authority to actually operate in homes, predominantly. But that emergency work from home approval will lapse by September,” Hernandez said Friday in a webinar organized by the Management Association of the Philippines CEO Academy.
“Right now, there are discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry, PEZA [Philippine Economic Zone Authority] and everybody to try to see what we can do to extend it. We are not yet at the point where we feel it's safe for our employees to actually go back to office,” he said.
He said that in implementing rules and regulation of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises Act, there is a provision under Rule 23 that may allow the extension of the work-from-home arrangement for the sector.
All registered PEZA enterprises and businesses are required to locate to PEZA-accredited establishments or economic zones. In the case of the contact centers, they should be operating from a facility or building that is registered with PEZA to qualify for incentives.
Hernandez said the rapid roll-out of vaccines to the industry is a condition to creating a safer environment for the ITBPM people to work in an office set-up. He said workers in the industry were trained to do excellent work from home.
“We feel that we need a more permanent solution to actually be as competitive in the way the work is migrating from that traditional in-office in big centers to now more hybrid kind of models. We now have more than a year of data that tell us that quality does not go down, productivity does not go down when people are working from home. In fact, we've seen evidence that has gone up for us,” said Hernandez.
He said the system may even help the industry raise new jobs, because WHF is a comfortable set-up for workers and even for company management.
Hernandez said the industry was working for the creation of an additional 160,000 jobs in 2021 and 2022 to add to the target employment of 1.6 million jobs of the government.
ITBAP expects total industry revenue to reach $29 billion next year.