Senatorial candidate Jejomar Binay on Wednesday expressed his support to the position of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry and its workers opposing a full return to physical office work.
The former vice president urged the government to consider the appeal, saying “It will be in the best interest not only of the industry but of the economy if our economic managers heed the position taken by the industry and its workers.”
The former vice president said threatening BPO firms with the possible removal of incentives could send the wrong signal to investors.
“Threatening BPO companies with a possible rescinding of incentives for non-compliance is too coercive. This sends the wrong signal to potential investors,” he added.
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua was reported as saying that a return to physical office work is “part of returning to the new normal.”
But Binay said this view is already outdated and that workplace realities have evolved because of the pandemic.
“Economic managers should realize that the new normal also means accepting changing realities in the workplace,” he said.
“It’s time for government to reconsider the concept that physical presence means greater productivity. What the pandemic has shown is that employees can just be as productive working from home,” he said.
Binay said what can be considered as the “new normal” is hybrid work arrangements.
Binay also said the work-from-home setup has opened new opportunities for sectors who are unable to physically report for work but can be productive from home.
“We now see greater work opportunities for stay-at-home parents, senior citizens, and Persons With Disabilities, particularly those with mobility problems,” he said.
“Working from home is a leveler in terms of job opportunities,” he added.
The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) had earlier proposed a hybrid work arrangement for their workers. Under this setup, workers can work from both their homes or in their offices.
The industry’s position is being supported by the Philippine Export Zone Authority (PEZA).
Binay also said government should address the valid concerns raised by BPO workers. This includes access to transportation, traffic, and their safety.
“Do not rush them work into the office. There are things to fix first. Transportation must be arranged, and measures must be taken for additional protection against COVID,” he said. “Even though the Alert Level has been lowered, the virus is still there.”