Being part of the BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) Industry for more than five years made me see the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic both to the industry and the people who runs the show.
My company has been responsible of taking care of customers as well as those who wish to inquire of having the business expanded. The BPO industry is a diverse industry which caters to business like sales, technical assistance, quasi-medical assistance, insurance even proctoring. Services like payroll, human resources, accounting and customer/call center relations are also included.
Before Covid-19 the BPO industry has been the biggest contributor to the Philippine economy due to the businesses it allows to open and the jobs that the Filipino has been able to aquire. Newly graduates has option to continue their profession or work as an agent and they were able to provide for their family almost the same way. Some of my newly graduate team mate (let's call him Sean that's his real name by the way) has been promoted in less than two years in the industry and when I asked him if he wants to shift to teaching he would answer not in the near future.
Most of the call center employees would have carried the stigma of being party goers, smokers and heavy drinkers. That would not apply to me since I stopped smoking since 2003 and never smoked anything after that, never missed it as well mind you. Anyway, what I am saying is that aside from the diverse opportunities, there is a diverse plethora of the kinds of characters of employees and one will never feel that he or she is too young nor too old for the job.
It was March 12, 2020 when the Philippine government announced to the Filipinos that there will be community quarantine mainly in Manila then places in other regions followed like Cebu and the rest of the country. Since I reside in IloIlo, the quarantine was implemented a little after March 16, 2020 and with that each BPO company strategized a way to take care of their employees. Some of the more stabilized companies had equipments like computer and internet sent home along with their employees. Some accomodated their employees by housing them in hotels with free accomodation and free food and transportation. Some who are not as privileged ask for the consent of their employees if they would like to do in WFH (work from home) or simply have a "no work, no pay" status.
For those who have opted no pay during the lockdown, economic regression has been felt and even after the quarantine has been lifted and those who stayed at home without pay has been allowed to go back to work, strict measures has been implemented like being sent home for the slightest symptoms. For those of us who have not been lucky to get our regular job back another option has been presented and that is to be freelancer meaning whilst the lockdown is erratic, I could work as customer service agent or representative but not having to report to a physical company. This option is being grabbed by me and most of the former BPO employees because at least here we are not forced to go to physical office during pandemic and we could stay at home, feel safe and still be able to get income (it may not be as high as the others but income, big or small is income still)
ADVANTAGES: Working from home has advantages and here are some of them.
-NO Traffic. Working from home, whether because the company allowed the representative or have he/she opted to do freelance definitely is advantagious because they do not have to endure traffic and pollution and the stress people gives most of employees.
-NO Pollution. Working from home definitely would have the pollution not enter that car of yours. There will be no stress in coughing due to smoke and heat when you go out.
-NO Infection. Working remotely means you are able to avoid unneccessary socializing and that means less possibility of being infected or worst, to infect others.
DISADVANTAGES: Most of the disadvantages are controllable with the help of the employees walking hand in hand with the employers.
-Data Breach. Most of the companies have confidential information that they could not allow to leak from the system. Thus allowing employees to have their station computers would risk the information being tampered by hackers or simply by family members that co-use the computer. Some of the companies release confidentiality agreements that makes the employees aware of the situation.
-Internet Connection. Most of the employers who are allowed to work from home are provided by the company the internet broadband that they could use to fulfill their tasks. However, for those who shoulder their own, internet connection are not as fast due to location or simply the signal is not there.
-Blackouts. Remote work is not easy because employees need to follow the same schedule but there are instances that the area where an employee live is not sprinkled with much electricity. In times of blackouts, these needs to be reported as to make the higher-ups know the condition of the area and their attendance is not affected.
Filipinos have been flexible ever since and thus even in this COVID-19 struggle, for the sake of providing for the family, Filipinos makes ways to be able to bring the bacon home. I am proud to be from the BPO industry and I am most proud to be a Filipino.