BPOs cite benefits of remote work

    By Irma Isip and Paul Icamina

    The information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) has noted benefits from work-from-home (WFH) and remote work arrangements on the industry and is pushing for a long-term plan on these schemes especially for companies registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

    This developed as a report of the International Labor Organization (ILO) showed the Philippines is one of the major providers of workers in digital platforms.

    Lito Tayag, chair of the IBPAP and country managing director of Accenture Philippines, told a forum hosted by the Management Association of the Philippines said the group sees remote work and WFH will continue to be adopted as part of the hybrid model of operations of IT-BPM.

    In his presentation, Tayag said IBPAP has seen increase in productivity for employees with optimized remote models, lesser absenteeism and attrition.

    Citing the experience of Accenture Philippines which he heads, Tayag said productivity has improved anywhere from 15 to 40 percent.

    Tayag said a 40-percent reduction in absenteeism and 10 to 15 percent reduction in attrition were also noted.

    For corporate benefits, Tayag said there is over 20 percent potential cost of reduction in real estate and resource usage.

    For workers, Tayag said the benefits were in the form of less time spent on commuting to and from the workplace, better collaboration among team members and more efficient means of communicating.

    With return-to-office also related to vaccination, IT-BPM companies will continue to use hybrid models depending on the needs of their clients.

    These models include: 25 to 50 percent of operations alternate on-site where the employee has alternate days or weeks on-site; 50 to 75 percent on-site on-demand where employees report to office on designated days and; 90 to 95 percent connected remote where employees reside within three hours of the office to enable once -a-month attendance.

    Digital platform labor growing

    Meanwhile, the ILO “World Employment and Social Outlook 2021: The role of digital labor platforms in transforming the world of work” report showed the Philippines accounted for 12 percent of home-based online work at $16 million of the total volume of $135 million in 2019.

    India had $26 million or 20 percent of the outsourced labor and Ukraine $13 million.

    The report added the other sources of digital workers are United Kingdom, the United States Bangladesh and Pakistan.

    However, workers from developing countries are paid less than British and American counterparts, the report said.

    Half of online platform workers earn less than $2 per hour. In addition, some platforms have significant gender pay gaps.

    Work on web-based platforms are tasks performed online and remotely by workers. These are mostly small, mostly clerical tasks that can be completed remotely using a computer and Internet connection such transcription and annotation; content moderation; data collection and processing; audio and video transcription; and translation.

    The data collected showed demand for work largely originates from Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the UK and Northern Ireland and the US.

    The report cited the advantage of developing countries such as Brazil, India and the Philippines in digital work since they have integrated information communication and technology development into their national development policies which has allowed them to dominate the business process outsourcing industry.

    The survey of about 300 online home-based workers in the Philippines found about 14 percent of the respondents were working as “virtual assistants” for clients based in Australia, Canada, the Philippines and the US.

    Data from 200,000 projects collected from one of the largest online freelance platforms in 2019.