The business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is looking for a hybrid office setup, citing a need for more time than the expected return to offices in early April.
The Tax Incentives Review Board (FIRB) has previously denied the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) request to expand Work from Home (WFH) agreements for registered information technology companies and business process management (IT-BPM).
Amid soaring fuel prices and ensuing rate hikes, the FIRB has authorized telecommuting arrangements for 90% of workers at IT-BPM companies in economic zones (ecozones) through the end of the month March only.
Jack Madrid, president of the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP), said companies would comply with the government order, but would still ask for a longer time to return to on-premises operations.
“It was difficult to move staff and equipment from site to home, it will also be difficult to move [back] over 1 million [workers], to move on the spot. We need a longer track,” Madrid said in an interview.
The IT-BPM sector would also be pushing for a long-term hybrid setup, as there is an overwhelming employee preference for the remote setup.
According to Madrid, the sector created 23,000 new jobs in 2020 and 100,000 new jobs in 2021.
“In the long term, certain changes must certainly be made that will take into account that the nature of work in the IT-BPM industry is different and should be considered,” he said.
“We’ve been an economic mainstay of the country for over 2 decades now, generating 1.4 million jobs and nearly $34 billion and keeping all of our employees here in the country. They don’t have to leave. By having this hybrid working arrangement, we actually support the government’s decision to expand into the countryside.”
Madrid said the preference for working from home extends even beyond BPO.
Meanwhile, Finance Secretary and FIRB Chairman Carlos Dominguez III said earlier that “the WFH arrangement is only a temporary, time-limited measure adopted during the outbreak of the COVID pandemic. -19”.
He added that due to the increase in the vaccination rate of Filipinos nationwide, companies may implement safety measures for the physical reporting of employees, including those who work in IT-BPM companies. operating in ecozones and freeports.
Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Filipino politics and events. She regularly follows global and local events. The opinions expressed are his own.
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