BPO Industry in the Philippines Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic

As the whole world continues to contain the spread of the virus, its adverse effects on the global economy will still be persistent in the coming months. Philippines, Singapore, United Kingdom, and the United States are just four of the countries across the world that are still imposing extensive lock down and community quarantines and are now facing economic decline. 

COVID-19 pandemic had affected the business process outsourcing in the Philippines as there were fluctuations in demand that had negative effects on the revenue flow in BPOs in the Philippines. BPO industry alone is considered one of the two main drivers of the country’s Gross Domestic Product alongside cash remittances.

“With the longer ECQ, economists have lowered the 2020 growth forecast for the Philippines to 0.2%, which is significantly lower than the government’s initial target growth rate of 6.5% to 7.5%. The lower household consumption, decline in cash remittances, ban on public transport, and business closures because of the pandemic are among the reasons for the economic slowdown,” writes pwc.com.

With the significance and contribution of the BPO industry and global effects of the pandemic, there will be major and minor changes in order to survive. After almost four months of different quarantine measure, how did we adapt?

Work From Home is the New Normal

Apps like Zoom, WebEx, and Skype are now more relevant! We may not expect this pandemic to happen, but the business sector had to quickly adjust and implement a work-from-home setup for their workers. The need for proper equipment and reliable internet connection surged up for them to continue functioning even outside their brick-and-mortar office.

Also known as telecommuting or remote working, the work from home setup is not entirely new. The modern workforce has been adapting this kind of setup as they believe that they can have a more work-life balance. But now, it has become the new normal.

Skeletal Workforce 

This pandemic may have caused most businesses to temporarily shut down but BPO companies still needed to continue to operate. But because of the ban on public transportation and restricted measures on going out, only the skeletal workforce is functioning. 

Skeletal workforce or skeleton staff is defined by dictionary.cambridge.org “as the smallest number of people needed for a business or organization to operate.” It means that only the essential functions [it depends on the nature of the job], key persons and workers are allowed to operate.

This is also in accordance with quarantine guidelines to contain the spread of the virus and eventually flatten the curve.

Continuous Revenue Loss and Avoiding Lay-offs

Fluctuating demands and changing priorities caused foreign companies to re-strategize business models in order to survive the pandemic. Some of these companies had to take back roles in-house while some hold their partnership with the outsourcing company in the Philippines.

The effect was a huge revenue loss that was why they needed to suspend the work of other non-essential roles. Also, companies avoided laying off employees by having shifting schedules and skeletal workforce, minimizing salary expenses, and reducing the number of worker duties.

But in other industries, the Department of Labor and Employment estimated five million job losses due to pandemic.

But despite all these…

Experts still believe that the business process outsourcing in the Philippines can quickly recover once this virus cleared out.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic widely expected to cause a global recession, the Philippine business process outsourcing (BPO) sector can be part of the solution to counter the downturn, just like how it had stepped up to the plate during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, the chief of Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC) said.” writes Inquirer.com.

We all can’t wait for this to be over as it continues to affect a vulnerable sector in our society — the labor force or the workers. They are the true drivers of our economy. Without them, the economy will fall. Let us just continue to act accordingly and be one with the government on flattening the curve. Criticize and take action. This too, shall pass.