The IT-BPM industry’s evolution from ‘work from home’ to ‘work near home’ | Inquirer Business

The IT-BPM industry’s evolution from ‘work from home’ to ‘work near home’

/ 11:10 AM October 21, 2023

The information technology and business process management (IT-BPM) industry in the Philippines has long been a cornerstone of the nation’s economy. However, like many sectors, it has undergone significant transformations in response to the global pandemic.

A recent survey conducted by Leechiu Property Consultants (LPC), which involved the participation of 27 IT-BPM companies, revealed some insights on the return-to-office (RTO) trends within the IT-BPM sector. These findings highlighted the unique challenges faced by different types of IT-BPM firms as the industry navigates through the dynamic landscape of the “new norm,” shaping the future of IT-BPM work.

RTO rates in Metro Manila vs. provincial sites

Among the third-party IT-BPM companies operating in Metro Manila, approximately 75 percent of employees have returned to the office. Meanwhile, provincial sites reported a higher rate of 80 percent.


One significant factor contributing to the higher return-to-office rate in provincial sites is the limited internet connectivity in some residential areas outside of Metro Manila. While remote work setups offer some flexibility, it comes with the prerequisite of a stable, high-speed internet connection. Employees in provincial areas, particularly those in remote or underserved regions, may find it challenging to maintain a reliable internet connection at home, prompting a higher percentage of employees to return to the office.


By contrast, companies within Metro Manila have seen a lower return-to-office rate, with 25 percent of employees opting to work remotely, primarily to avoid the notorious traffic congestion and commuting time.

Divergent WFH rate for captive IT-BPM companies

Despite the increasing return-to-office rates observed in both Metro Manila and provincial sites, captive IT-BPM companies, which are IT-BPM units wholly owned by the larger client or parent company, are diverging from the trend.

On average, only 30 percent of employees in captive IT-BPM companies have returned to the office. The lower RTO rates of captive IT-BPM companies can be attributed to their geographical locations, with a significant concentration in Metro Manila, particularly in key central business districts such as Bonifacio Global City and Makati City.

Given the substantial traffic congestion in these areas, companies are inclined to embrace a more flexible approach to accommodate their employees’ needs, thereby promoting remote work and hybrid setups.

Adoption of flexible work models

The industry’s ongoing transformation is driven by various factors, including employee preferences, public health considerations, and the maturation of remote work technology. These have compelled IT-BPM companies to adopt flexible work models that give employees the choice to work remotely or in the office.

While remote work has proven effective for many IT-BPM operations, challenges still remain. There are concerns over ensuring data security, providing employees with a conducive work environment, and addressing the digital divide in remote areas. Thus, many IT-BPM companies are compelled to think of creative solutions that will motivate employees to return to the office.


Drawing insights from LPC’s survey and interviews, there have been a variety of successful efforts that companies have applied to boost RTO rates.

Flexible schedules. Many companies are adopting hybrid work models, allowing employees to split their time between the office and remote work. This flexibility acknowledges the value of remote work while ensuring that employees spend some time in the office for collaboration and social interaction.

Creating inviting workspaces. Companies are investing in creating office spaces that are attractive and conducive to work. Comfortable and well-designed environments can make employees eager to return. Some companies have invested in upgrading offices, while others have even relocated to a brand new office to make it convenient for majority of the employees.

Employee well-being programs. Companies acknowledge that employees have concerns about commuting and office stress, driving many to introduce employee well-being programs. These include mental health support, gym facilities, wellness activities, game rooms, and other activities to help build office morale and engagement.

Incentives and rewards. Some companies offer incentives and rewards to employees who choose to work in the office, such as commuter benefits, bonuses, or additional paid time off.

Despite the global pandemic, IT-BPM companies have demonstrated steady growth in the past few years. This can be attributed to the strategic initiatives that were set in motion, including the exploration of untapped labor markets, leveraging cost-effective real estate solutions, the establishment of robust business continuity plans (BCPs), and a strong focus on enhancing employees’ work-life balance by locating offices closer to their homes.

Though remote work has demonstrated its viability and many employees still find WFH setups preferable, working in the office fosters collaboration, mentorship, and a sense of belonging that remain a valuable aspect of the modern work experience. The return to the office is not just a return to the status quo—it’s an opportunity to create a workplace that combines the best of both worlds, benefitting both employees and the company as a whole.

We are seeing IT-BPM companies tailor their approach to align with their unique requirements. In order to adapt to the evolving work landscape, more and more companies are bringing the office closer to their employees. As we emerge from the pandemic and redefine the workplace, we are witnessing the evolution of “work from home” to “work near home.”

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The author is senior manager of the Commercial Leasing Team at Leechiu Property Consultants Inc., the country’s premier real estate advisory firm. For more information, visit or contact Mawhi Steley, director of Marketing and Communications through [email protected]

TAGS: Business, property

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