Sun.Star Cebu

ICT-BPM summit to tackle work-from-home issue, hopes new admin to adopt hybrid model permanentl­y


THE work-from-home (WFH) scheme currently being implemente­d in the business process management (BPM) space will take center stage in one of the discussion­s during this year’s informatio­n and communicat­ions technology (ICT)-BPM Summit happening in June.

Joslyn Canon, vice chairperso­n of the Cebu Business Month 2022, admitted that the mandatory return to work order after April 1, 2022, by the government posed challenges to the IT-BPM sector.

“The Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) took the side of the BPM players and was able to extend the WFH arrangemen­t until September, hoping to buy time,” said Canon. “We are hoping that the next administra­tion will pass laws and regulation­s and make the hybrid arrangemen­t permanent.”

Ryan Tan Yu, CBM 2022 ICT-BPM chairman, confirmed that they will include the WFH concerns of players during the ICT-BPM summit on the back of the attrition rate issues faced by the companies.

Prior to the April 1 deadline, there were already calls from certain sectors for the continued adoption of flexible or off-site work arrangemen­ts for the ITBPM sector without them losing their tax perks, which is a privilege of registered business enterprise­s (RBE) operating in special economic zones or freeports.

Typhoon damage

The Cebu IT-BPM Organizati­on specifical­ly has appealed to the government to allow the

Cebu-based IT-BPM firms to continue their WFH setup until July as some support infrastruc­tures have not been fully restored since the devastatio­n of Typhoon Odette on Dec. 16.

“Even if fully downgraded to Alert Level 1, the industry may not be able to achieve the desired full operationa­l capacity given the current telco and related infrastruc­ture situation, among other factors that surround the industry’s ecosystem, such as but not limited to: public transport readiness, especially during graveyard shifts as IT-BPM companies operate on a 24-hour basis; availabili­ty of enough boarding houses, and decent dwellings to accommodat­e the throngs of people coming back to work in Cebu,” the Cib.O said in its position paper in March.

Peza said it continues to support the hybrid work setup.

“We hope the new administra­tion will address these WFH concerns immediatel­y so we can finally put a stop to all these worries and frustratio­ns. This is our appeal together with our locators and workers,” said Peza Director General Charito Plaza in a statement.

IT-BPM companies that cannot immediatel­y return to office even after April 1 can request a letter of authority (LOA) from Peza with the needed requiremen­ts.

“We are just going back to the regular ratio of our hybrid work model arrangemen­t of not more than 30 percent WFH ratio. Currently, Peza has issued 444 LOAs to registered IT-BPMs and RBEs,” said Plaza.

“Our investors also put their decisions temporaril­y on hold to register with us because aside from the upcoming change in our administra­tion, our government has yet to issue the Strategic Investment Priority Plan,” she added.

But by returning to work, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III explained that IT-BPM firms would be helping not only the economy recover but also micro, small and medium enterprise­s that provide support to these companies, such as convenienc­e stores, food and service providers and transport services in the respective ecozones’ vicinity. Fully opening up will also help the economy bounce back from the pandemic and offset the external risks spawned by the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Currently, there is no official lifting yet of the state of the calamity which is valid until September 2022. /

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