Sat | Jul 31, 2021

Computer waiver boosts work-at-home for BPOs

Published:Friday | March 20, 2020 | 12:00 AM

The Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ) has welcomed the positive response by the Government to its request for a waiver on computers to be used by select employees under a work-from-home (WAH) arrangement as the nation combats the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Under normal circumstances, the Special Economic Zone Act does not allow equipment purchased for use at the sites of the outsourcing firms to leave the premises.

“This will allow the companies to reduce, where possible, the number of persons in the centres,” Gloria Henry, president of the GSAJ, formerly the Business Process Industry Association of Jamaica (BPIAJ), said yesterday.

“Work at home is not possible for all companies and, therefore, a raft of other measures are being implemented to protect and maintain the health and well-being of our people.”

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered that effective March 18, government agencies and businesses scale back non-essential work and that staff be demobilised to operate from home, where possible.

Forty thousand workers are employed in the business process outsourcing sector, which has been a key source of jobs and economic growth over the last six years. The sector attracts an estimated investment spend of approximately US$400 million to Jamaica annually, with about 70 companies operating mainly in Montego Bay, Mandeville, Portmore, and Kingston.

Just over 10,000 agents will be given the option to work from home after a meticulous selection process by employers that would minimise the risk of contagion but guarantee business continuity.

Companies that are unable to facilitate a WAH regime are reportedly employing measures to include shifts that allow the remaining 30,000 employees more time at home while maintaining efficiencies.The firms have also strengthened their monitoring systems and established isolation rooms, response, and contact-tracing strategies.

The GSAJ has also received commitment support from telecoms firms.