Doing Business in the Philippines - Call Centers Come to Life at Night

Outsourcing is the fastest growing industry in the Philippines, ranks second to India worldwide on the strength of its excellent reputation for voice based communications and expertise in back office processes like accounting, bookkeeping and web development. It helps that the country has embraced the social network revolution in a big way, first with Friendster (largest demographic) and now Facebook where 1 in 4 online Filipinos maintain an account. A growing cadre of Virtual Assistants, SEO experts and Customer Service agents crowd the streets of Philippine business centers of Makati, Ortigas, the Fort and Cebu. Companies looking to harness this valuable resource must consider how the country's labor pool function when confronted by changing political and socioeconomic realities. A quick visit to gave me a good sample of available knowledge workers in Metro Manila alone.
The corner of Legazpi St. and Rada St. was your typical big city street scene - bustling traffic, swarming lunch traffic, daily urban noise. Who would have imagined this scene at midnight? Starbucks compete with 7-11s in every corner. While McDo and KFC serve it hot at 2am. Welcome to Makati City's new night life. This is the new business environment.
We see the dynamics of this industry 4 months later, when the same call centers around Makati are buzzing with animated chatter about the latest political scandals rocking the Philippines. New witnesses give more weight to recent allegations of extreme corruption in high places, senate hearings fill the airwaves and make daily news headlines. Its impossible to ignore but what do our new heroes have to say about it all?
" Its sad about the state of our nation, but I have a quota to fill otherwise I'll never be a permanent employee...", says Jules Young, longtime Assistforce Virtual Assistant, underscoring the importance of business as usual over politics.
"Sana binigay na lang nila ang perang kikitain sa tao, e di may pambili na sila nang calling card na benta naming sa trabaho!" (I'd much prefer getting the money back from all the corruption, then the people can use the money to buy phone calling cards - more business for us!) - Joanna Enerlan, Assistforce web designer.
When asked about the rallies scheduled in Makati that afternoon and if they are joining, most begged off, citing the need to sleep and prepare for the night shift.
This month's topic of interest: GMA announces her bid for Congress in 2010. Predictably, there are no protests, strikes, nothing. People are in the business of making a living working at night servicing businesses in New York and Los Angeles - can't spend too much time in politics when there's only so much hours in a day to sleep.