Hybrid work setup is 'way of the future' for IT-BPM

·3 min read

THE IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (Ibpap) has stood by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza) and its power to enable hybrid work for outsourcing companies, saying it’s the way of the future.

“This long-standing policy is irrefutable legal basis for the continuance of the 30 percent work-from-home (WFH) arrangement for IT-BPM companies and the provisions of the Peza law, which grant the agency authority to oversee the operations of its RBEs (registered business entities), have not been amended based on the opinion of Peza and other lawyers,” Ibpap president and chief executive Jack Madrid.

Ibpap’s push to have WFH/hybrid work arrangements goes beyond business continuity plans related to the Covid-19 pandemic. This is more to adapt to global work trends for business flexibility that investors look for and to strengthen our country’s competitiveness in retaining existing and attracting new IT-BPM investors.

“This has been explained to our partners in government, including leaders of key Executive Departments and some senators, and we believe we have been well-understood and supported,” he said.

The fact that there is a clamor for and an overwhelming preference for WFH/hybrid work expressed by employees due to many other justifiable reasons that also have gained tremendous public attention should make the government’s decision to consider allowing said work setup even more compelling, he said.

“Therefore, the Fiscal Incentives Review Board’s (Firb) dismissal of the collective wisdom of all these parties, who are advocating continued WFH/hybrid work beyond BCP and the pandemic, by citing that it has no legal basis by virtue of the Create Law, is short-sighted and inconsistent with the objective of attracting and retaining investors in the country’s biggest job-generating industry and contributor of foreign exchange revenue,” the official added.

The long-standing impasse with the Firb and its very public exchanges with Peza on the matter of WFH/hybrid work is not only detrimental to the narrative of industry agility, innovation, and resilience, but also to the positioning of the Philippines as the IT-BPM investment destination of choice.

“It has therefore detracted us from what’s truly important—creating more employment and generating more foreign exchange revenue for the country. This has been a recurring problem that has negatively impacted the ease of doing business in the country, as well as the confidence level of our principals and potential clients,” Madrid said.

Considering that this issue is between and among government agencies, he urged the Firb to thresh this out internally so as not to give the impression to investors of an unstable policy environment, which affects the country’s image. If this continues, IT-BPM’s potential to provide 1.1 million new jobs by 2028 will be seriously imperiled.

“With what is at stake and given the resounding support from many of our legislators in Congress and from the heads of several Executive Agencies, the continuing ‘no legal basis’ hardline stance of the FIRB and the penalizing of investors and IT-BPM companies for implementing WFH/hybrid work arrangements is perplexing to us,” he said.

The least Firb could do, he noted, is to explore all possible means by which it can support the continued growth of the industry with all its contribution to the retention and creation of jobs, the generation of significant forex revenue in the two years of the pandemic, including how the industry fuels the recovery and growth of other major industries.

Ibpap echoes the call of the Sen. Grace Poe for the government to “think outside the cubicle” to prevent excessive bureaucracy from choking out innovation and damaging the image of the Philippines as a progressive and viable investment location.