Philippine contact centers operate largely in state-of-the-art buildings, with hundreds of employees taking thousands of calls daily. But this brick-and-mortar office model has had to undergo overwhelming change, in light of government response to the pandemic, including restrictions on transportation, physical distancing, and curfew hours.
As a result, only 10% to 15% of contact center employees are now able to work from offices, with more and more people taking calls from home. This threatened a huge disruption to not only contact center management, but the Philippine economy.
Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and the Philippines
Contact centers form the largest segment of Philippine BPO, which is regarded as an important source of income and foreign exchange for the country, constituting a massive 60% of the Philippines’ overall economic growth. At the center of the country’s BPO success is our highly-educated, English-speaking, digitally-literate workforce. Per recent data, BPO sector employees comprise approximately 1.3 million workers, contributing 9% of the country’s GDP.
Considering this substantial contribution to the economy, the sector was therefore recognized as an ‘essential’ industry and permitted to continue operations, when Metro Manila – the center of Philippine business – went on lockdown due to the virus. Yet this permission came with strict requirements: no more than a skeleton workforce onsite, temporary accommodations near the workplace, shuttle service to and from work, and, in lieu of all of the above, remote work arrangements, to ensure business continuity.
Rising to the Challenge
So, with thousands of employees across the globe, how did Inspiro meet this unprecedented challenge?
An effective and well-managed organization builds a strong, connected workforce, over years, with efficient skills, business acumen, and industry knowledge. This enabled us to be quick and agile in setting up a work-from-home model for our employees, facilitating equipment transfers, ensuring data security, and providing high-speed internet access, along with clearance requirements from clients. We also managed increased software and hardware costs, along with rising compliance and security risks.
Further, with malasakit – the Filipino word for genuine care and concern – ingrained in Inspiro as an organization, it was a given that we would not just meet but exceed targets, when it comes to the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of our people. Among numerous efforts, we have implemented both government and World Health Organization guidelines, even in our minimally-staffed offices; extended financial assistance to those few of our employees unable to work either onsite or from home; and are maximizing social media and other online tools to keep connected with our vast workforce, not only for work itself, but to maintain morale, camaraderie, and unity.
We also help our clients transition, like us, from 100% brick-and-mortar to a safer, smarter work-from-home setup, which we’re able to do in just 48 hours from client request. More than 50% of our agents are now empowered to work from home, continuing to serve our clients and their customers, as well as ensuring business continuity for our company and country.
Mindful of our responsibility as a social citizen, we’ve enacted all these endeavors and more, to not only sustain customer experience excellence through the pandemic, but make a difference in this time of uncertainty.