VoIP: Enabling Home Working in the Philippines

Something particularly we Filipinos should not ignore is how VoIP can enable organizations to utilize the Labor Force of the ENTIRE Philippines versus being dependent on where the business is located.

A lot of businesses, particularly in Manila have been complaining on how high the salary has become here and how difficult it has become to recruit people. Relocating a business in other cities or even rural areas provides a business the lower cost of labor and a large, untapped labor pool of skilled professionals who would otherwise have to find work in Manila, Cebu or Davao. However, most businesses need to locate in Manila and the other major cities simply because the clients are there.

VoIP, combined with other Internet enabled applications offers the solution: Retain your Head office and sales team in the major cities, recruit and hire your ‘back-office’ manpower from the provinces. With VoIP PBX, your employees need not be in the same location but your clients wouldn’t know the difference. Your secretary could be working from in Cebu, your accountant in Bicol, your sales in Manila, etc. Through the Internet, you can call, instant message or even video-conference with everyone for free! Your Client calls your office in Manila, the call gets transferred to your secretary in Cebu who entertains the call and transfer it to your production team in Davao!

The savings to your organization would be ASTRONOMICAL. Wages in the provinces can be up to 50% less than what you are bound to pay in Metro Manila. Even the additional compensation you’d need to provide all your employees Broadband connection and other tools would be insignificant to your cost savings in wages and office space.

Getting interested? Here’s a shopping list of what you’d need:

  1. Broadband connection for all your employees (~Php 1,000.00/month)
  2. Trixbox (http://www.trixbox.org) – (FREE!)
  3. TDM Card to connect to the PSTN (~PHP 6,000.00/line)
  4. An old worn down PC you’re employees refuse to use as it’s a ‘Pentium 3’ –(FREE if you have it, Php 10K or less if you need to buy one)
  5. Softphone for each of your employees (FREE!)
  6. Headset per Employee (~Php 500.00)
  7. Webcam for Video Conference per Employee (~Php 1,000.00)
  8. Instant Messenger per Employee (FREE!)
  9. PC for each of your Empoyee (FREE is you recruit people already with a PC or Php 20K if you need to provide it).

Total Cost per Employee – (Php 2,500.00 if the have their own PC at home or Php 22,500.00 if you need to supply it.) + The cost of the PBX Server (Php 6,000.00/line connected to it)

Say you need 20 employees with an average salary of Php 18,000.00 in Manila. You decide to recruit in the Provinces, and get the same level of skill for work at home employees for an average salary of Php 12,000.00+2,500 to equip them with DSL and other equipment. That’s Php 70,000.00 in SAVINGS each month or Php 840,000.00 over one year!!! And that doesn’t even include your savings in Office Space, Electricity, etc.!

What are the disadvantages?

  1. Most managers would not be used to managing their employees remotely. However, this is mainly a case of implementing strict Management Systems vs. managing in a ‘personal’ level. There are A LOT of open source applications you can use to help you out in this…from groupware/project management suites to opensource ERP’s.
  2. The typical concern is that you wouldn’t know if your employees are really working or just sleeping. Again, management systems should be in place, such as employees should be required to answer instant messenger queries in less then 5 minutes, they should be visible via webcam, or if you’re REALLY paranoid you can install spyware on their PCs so you know EVERYTHING…and think about it…Do you think they’re working 100% of the time in YOUR office?
  3. Working at home removes the ‘camaraderie’ of office life. Hmm…no easy answer to that…but it does remove the ‘evils’ of office politicking, rumor mongering and the like. It also gives the employees much more in terms of their personal life and family life. And with your cost savings, why not give back by treating all of your remote employees to Boracay once a year?

Granted, there would be some industries where this wouldn’t be appropriate but for majority of service-related businesses in the Philippines, Managers should seriously ask themselves…is there really anything preventing our organization to adapt a work from home model?

2 Replies to “VoIP: Enabling Home Working in the Philippines

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  2. This is so true. Most of my friends are now just working at home like I am. A couple of years back, I was the only one I know who works online, but now almost everyone does.

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