Freeman Cebu Business

As full WFH setup gets the nod more BPOs expand in provincial areas

Ehda M. Dagooc - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  More Business Processing Outsourcing (BPO) firms are expanding their operations, particularly in the provincial areas, as a 100 percent work-from-home setup is now allowed without any adverse impact on their tax incentives.

According to a report released by Colliers Philippines, many registered business enterprises (RBEs) are now seen expanding their office footprint outside of Metro Manila, including Cebu.

The outside of Metro Manila locations have long been seen as untapped resources for BPO players talent-wise.

Colliers’ data showed that Cebu remains the top provincial destination favored by BPOs, recording approximately 34,000 square meters of office transactions, followed by Davao (21,000 square meters), and Pampanga (9,000 square meters). When asked about their motivations for choosing provincial locations, most of these BPO companies cited expansions and/or relocations.

Based on the IT and Business Process Association of the Philippines (IBPAP) IT-BPM Roadmap 2023-2028, the IT and business process management (IT-BPM) sector remains one of the Philippines’ best-performing economic drivers. The number of full-time employees (FTE) working in this sector has already reached 1.44 million and is projected to increase further by 1.1 million to 2.5 million by 2028, 54 percent of which will be coming from the countryside. The sector is also expected to grow by 8.5 percent in 2022.

Currently, the top five IT-BPM employers in the country include Concentrix, Accenture, Teleperformance, Alorica, and the Sitel Group. Out of the 19 BPO players listed, notable positive employee headcount movement in the third quarter of 2022 came from Concentrix, who hired an additional 10,000 employees, followed by Teleperformance (2,534 employees), TaskUs Philippines (8,000 employees), Telus International (7,000 employees), and afni Philippines (2,000 employees).

In terms of increase in total office space occupied, WNS Global Services has expanded quite significantly both its Metro Manila and provincial office footprint: 12 percent and 47 percent, respectively.

On the other hand, several BPO companies are diversifying their site portfolio through expansions in the provinces. Telus International sustained its Metro Manila office footprint but expanded in the provinces by 23 percent. TTEC’s provincial office footprint also increased by 19 percent while retaining its footprint in Metro Manila.

Concentrix, the Philippines’ largest BPO company in terms of employee headcount and office space occupied, has also been expanding outside Metro Manila: its provincial office footprint increased by 12 percent in the third quarter of 2022 compared to the previous quarter.

Seeing the need to adapt to changing times and shifting attitudes among BPO players and employees, on September 14, 2022, the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB) released Resolution No. 026-22 allowing the transfer of registration of IT-BPM firms from the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) to the Board of Investments (BOI), which in essence allows them to implement 100 percent work-from-home (WFH) arrangement without any adverse impact on their tax incentives. This has been lauded as a big win for both BPO employees and employers.

Colliers Philippines said that this development has encouraged many BPOs to expand their office footprint outside Metro Manila, and fast-track the setup of operations in the provinces.

Now with the mandate to implement WFH setups, BPOs are chasing after talents who prefer to settle back in their hometowns.

As reported in Colliers’ recently concluded third quarter 2022 Philippine Property Market Briefing, there has been a significant increase in provincial office transactions quarter-on-quarter.

 Colliers’ data show that an additional 63,000 square meters of office spaces were transacted in the third quarter of 2022, with total space transacted reaching 145,000 square meters for the first nine months of the year. This figure is 23 percent of total office transactions recorded.

More than half (56 percent) of these transactions were for BPO companies.


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