More than a quarter of the Philippines call center workforce is still struggling to work from home even months after the country imposed lockdowns in response to the rapidly-spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
On Luzon Island, according to Manila Standard, 58% of BPO workers are currently working from home, with around 15% of others working as skeleton staff in their offices.
Two weeks ago, things were far worse, noted the news daily, adding that then barely 40% of BPO employees were operating from home.
The report confirms that the pandemic caught the country’s BPO firms off guard. Philippines call center workforce were not at all prepared for a total work-from-home model, as they had to deal with many challenges such as internet access, equipment transfers, and clearance from clients.
Low-speed internet was the biggest hurdle they had to overcome. In late March, a report on the Cebu Daily News (CDN) showed BPO workers scrambling to speed up their broadband connections after their employers told them to telecommute.
The Philippines is ranked 63rd out of 100 countries in the 2020 Inclusive Internet Index prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Despite the rickety ICT infrastructure, the Philippines enjoyed growth in the BPO sector for many years. Even last year, it generated 71,000 jobs, taking its total headcount to 1.3 million.
The industry has long been regarded as a major source of dollar currency for the country. Furthermore, it accounts for nearly 9% of the country’s economy.