The Outsourcing Week in Review: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

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THE WEEK IN REVIEW

The number of displaced Filipino workers due to the COVID-19 pandemic has ballooned to two million people nationwide as of April 24, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). The National Capital Region (NCR) recorded the highest number with 687,634 workers. Ninety per cent of the 80,000 establishments reporting displacements are seeking the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP) assistance, which has overwhelmed DOLE.  On April 15, DOLE stopped accepting CAMP applications due to the deluge, though they have realigned P1.5 billion of its 2020 budget to provide a one-time cash assistance to additional 300,000 workers.

As working from home becomes “the new normal,” companies in India and the Philippines scramble to adapt to the complications of the new setup. Clients are challenged by workers’ lack of hardware and a stable internet connection – some have been forced to go back to manual processing. This lack of adequate infrastructure may hamper small businesses’ efforts to implement the WFH scheme. It also means that the Philippines misses out on an expected global boom in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector amid the pandemic, according to National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) President Michael Tiu Lim. He questioned the readiness of many small- and medium-sized enterprises to work from home, as “some employees don’t even have proper 4G or 3G connectivity to enable them to connect to their work.”

In an effort to reopen the economy, President Rodrigo Duterte has tabled the partial reopening of some sectors as the country plans a transition to the General Community Quarantine (GCQ) on 15th May. The Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) have been permitted to reopen partially, as the government controversially claimed that the POGOs are part of the BPO industry. The IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) strongly disagreed with the government’s grouping of the BPO and POGO industries, releasing a detailed public statement outlining four main distinctions for why “POGOS cannot be considered as BPO”.

Some Philippine call centers have come under international public scrutiny as the living standards of BPO employee accommodation is called into question. A local union – BPO Industry Employees Network (BIEN) – received complaints that call center staff were having to sleep onsite in poor conditions with ineffective social distancing, breaching COVID-19 protocols in order to fulfill their customer service work.  The staff were customer service agents for the Australian telecom giants, Telstra and Optus in Teleperformance and [24]7.ai facilities.

Telstra responded prohibiting Teleperformance using any onsite accommodation for its workers, and [24]7.ai made assurances that it is complying with government regulators and is ensuring social distancing.

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Duterte, in a televised public address, urged employers to ensure the safety of their workers once the government has given them the signal to operate. “You asked us to [let you] open. We agreed, but there are protocols to be followed,” he added.

In slightly brighter news, research and consultancy firm Oxford Business Group (OBG) confirmed that segments such as health care, gaming and animation are expected to grow significantly amid the pandemic. In support, IBPAP projected revenue growth of 7.3 to 10.8 per cent through 2022 for the health care sector, while 7.3 to 12.3 per cent is projected in gaming and animation. OBG says that growth in these segments could be even higher than previously predicted, as the pandemic continues to raise the global demand for these services.

Some BPO companies are evidently thriving despite the pandemic. Accenture’s subsidiary, Accenture Federal Service (AFS), was awarded a five-year, $96m contract to help the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) automate manual workflows and introduce applied intelligence and machine learning capabilities.

On May 5, Cloudstaff, an Australian BPO based in Clark, announced the successful completion of its Series B financing round.  They raised US$20 million investment from Philippines-focused private equity firm, Navegar. “With Navegar, we have found the best partner possible to grow our business model around the world,” says Cloudstaff founder and CEO Lloyd Ernst. The company reported to Outsource Accelerator that they have 2,500 staff and $58m in run-rate revenue, although they were unwilling to disclose the valuation.

 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

NEWS THIS WEEK

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5 May 2020

PH BPO Cloudstaff Raises US$20M Amid COVID-19 Pandemic – read article…

4 May 2020

COVID-19 forces outsourcing companies to shift to home employment – read article…

POGOs are not BPOs, says IBPAP – read article…

Call center agents sleeping at offices, claims BPO workers’ union – read article…

30 April 2020

Duterte opens up PH economy with modified quarantine measures – read article…

Accenture Federal Services wins US$96m US contract – read article…

Telstra pulls out staff living in ‘onsite accommodation’ – read article…

29 April 2020

Duterte urges companies to ensure employee safety – read article…

Philippines could miss out on expected ICT boom – read article…

More technical, healthcare jobs to grow amid COVID-19 pandemic – read article…

28 April 2020

Philippine economy to post first contraction in 20 years – read article…

WFH trend to continue in Philippines even after quarantine period – read article…

More than 2m workers in Philippines affected by COVID-19 pandemic – read article…

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