Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey sent his employees an email Tuesday, May 12, allowing them to work from home indefinitely, even after COVID-19 shutdown ends. The decision made is based on the company’s broader mission to support employees working from anywhere around the globe and on Twitter’s experience that working from home is feasible. If Twitter can do this, can our business process outsourcing (BPO) industry follow suit and allow their employees to also work at home?
BPOs, also known as information technology enabled services, act as third party providers to non-primary business activities and functions. These services include payroll, human resources, accounting and customer relations — services that can be done anywhere as long as there is telephone and internet connectivity.
The Philippine BPO industry employs more than 1.2 million people. Assuming that only 75% of these employees report to the company’s offices, that would be around 900,000 individuals out of the streets especially during rush hours. That would also mean a bigger space per person outside the residential areas thus allowing the practice of physical distancing, minimize the crowding of people in offices and other public spaces, and eventually controlling the spread of Coronavirus.
This is doable because some BPO companies have been farming out their services and subcontracting them to start-ups. In fact, some Internet shops have closed and were converted into mini-BPO offices. Hence, it is possible that the BPO companies can follow the move of Twitter.
But of course, BPOs would not want to sacrifice the quality of their services. Internet connectivity, particularly those availing the work at home scheme, must be fast and consistent. This is where the government can enter particularly the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). The DICT should not only work towards making Internet connectivity accessible but also fast. And not just fast but also consistently fast.
For BPO companies, maybe they can start with what is feasible. This includes allowing workers with a relatively acceptable Internet connection to work at home just like what Twitter is doing.
The BPO industry plays a vital role in the Philippines economy. Aside from employing a large number of people, it also contributes over 11% to the country’s gross domestic product. Hopefully, arrangements can be made the soonest time possible so that the industry will not only to sustain its economic contribution but also Covid-proof its workers.