If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
Three years into the pandemic, business activities in the Philippines are still in a state of flux.
In light of the significant decrease in the positivity rate of COVID-19, the government has made the wearing of face masks voluntary in open places or outdoor areas with good ventilation.
For obvious reasons, however, that health protocol shall remain strictly enforced in hospitals and other medical establishments.
Although the worst of the pandemic seems to have tapered off, the continued viability of the work-from-home (WFH) arrangement that some businesses adopted during that medical emergency is now under review.
Is it already time to minimize (or do away with) that WFH scheme so the economy can speedily go back to prepandemic business operations level?For the Private Sector Advisory Council (a group of chief executives of the country’s leading corporations organized to advise President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on private sector development issues), the answer is “yes” as far as the information technology business process outsourcing (BPO) sector is concerned.
The council had recommended a “70-30” work setup in BPOs, meaning, 70 percent of their employees shall be physically present in their offices and 30 percent shall work from home.This suggestion did not sit well with former presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion who said, “ … let the business owners decide. They would know best which jobs require onsite work and which do not.”
His statement echoes the economic policy of laissez-faire which calls for market forces to be allowed to operate freely with as minimal government interference as possible.
Thus, as long as businesses are compliant with regulatory health, labor and tax requirements, they should be given a free hand in deciding on the manner they want to accomplish their commercial objectives.After all, it’s their money, not the public’s; they would lose in case they choose the wrong business model.
Besides, unless they have strong political connections, they cannot expect the government to bail them out in case they get into serious financial trouble.
While it is true that some business principles or practices are immutable or considered essential to profitability, there is no one-size-fits-all rule on how they should be observed or implemented.
Each business entity is unique or has a character of its own. What may work in one business may not necessarily work in another.
It is textbook wisdom that the success or failure of a business depends on, among others, the nature of the product or service it offers (a need or a want), its target market (the general public or a particular social stratum), management outlook (risk-averse or adventurous) and level of government regulation (closely monitored or minimal restrictions). And if the business is not doing well, its management may temporarily lay off some of its employees, downsize, change its hours of operation and take such other measures that may be necessary to keep it afloat.
No doubt, the BPOs, not third parties, are in the best position to decide on what work arrangement would ensure their continued operation.
They have been in the business for decades, so they know the expectations and needs of their clientele and how to address them; if it were otherwise, they would have closed shop even before the pandemic hit the world in 2020.
Their business model has proven to be resilient and able to seamlessly adjust to unexpected changes in their area of operation and target market.
Clearly, their management knows their onions and therefore have no need for unsolicited advice from outsiders on how to do their business.
Bottom line: the government has no moral authority to tell them what operational structure they should adopt as the country transitions from the pandemic.
This is one time when the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” squarely applies. INQ
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