Sun | Aug 7, 2022

FLOW supports BPO push for work-from-home policy

Published:Wednesday | March 30, 2022 | 12:05 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Andrew Fazio, director of BPO and hospitality, Cable & Wireless Business.
Andrew Fazio, director of BPO and hospitality, Cable & Wireless Business.

WESTERN BUREAU:

ANDREW FAZIO, director of business process outsourcing (BPO) and hospitality, Cable and Wireless Business, a subsidiary of telecommunications giant FLOW, has thrown the company’s support behind calls for a work-from-home policy arrangement.

The BPO sector, which is professionally known as the Global Services Association of Jamaica (GSAJ), is a non-governmental organisation which provides employment for approximately 55,000 persons, who receive income from the sector’s $44-billion payout for salaries annually.

According to Fazio, the 90 outsourcing firms are determined to grow their operations to include a work-from-home arrangement, a formula which was implemented during the infectious and deadly waves of the coronavirus pandemic. He noted that this arrangement is a perfect platform for continuous strategic growth.

“But what we really want to see is that there is a permanent work-from-home directive (law), so that large BPO companies [whose employees] want to work at home on a permanent basis are protected,” said Fazio in an interview with reporters on the sideline of the just-concluded GSAJ President’s Breakfast Forum at the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort.

He said the sector’s request for the Government to amend the existing law encompassing the operational space under the special economic zone is relevant, timely, and has proven to work.

“When you make a strategic decision with a customer to come here and work at home, and maybe in three months that may change, it’s hard to make those long-term decisions,” Fazio stated. “It’s been great during the pandemic. It kind of got thrusted that way; but if we continue, it will allow people to expand, bring in more services, and people will become more productive.”

SHACKLE OF SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE

He also revealed that BPO companies are reluctant in fully taking up work-from-home opportunities in communities where C&W Business has installed high-speed fibre-optic Internet service, largely because of the shackle of the special economic zone.

“Yes, the challenges, though, for a lot of them, they are, but they have a hard time with their strategy because of the non-commitment of the actual ability to stay and work-at-home policy,” shared Fazio, in response to The Gleaner.

But Fazio said: “We are doing what we can to make sure the product is there when they are ready. If the Government does its part, we will have a perfect storm through a major wind, and it will grow the sector tremendously. We saw how it helped during the pandemic.”

Last week, key players in the GSAJ urged business colleagues to support a proposed work-from-home policy that will see at least 30 per cent of their staff complement carrying out their jobs from home.

That call was cautiously supported by Legal and Constitutional Affairs Minister Marlene Malahoo-Forte, who said Government must consider the parameters within which the companies operate, and promised to give her support in helping the Ministry of Finance and Public Service to arrive at a decision.

“You can be at ease, (but) I can’t tell you how the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service will make the ultimate decision when the request is made. But given the role that I have, I will help to make the case for you. And I will help to have the structure redone to achieve the goals,” Malahoo-Forte promised.

While the GSAJ is grateful for the support and services provided by Cable and Wireless Business, it is concerned about the telecommunications and information technology infrastructure, as the current offerings are impeding their ability to expand.

“The GSS (global services sector) companies are connectivity-based enterprises. They provide content and services through value chains and networks that depend on ICT (information and communications technology) infrastructure, and the pandemic has accelerated growth in the adoption of the Internet of things,” said Gloria Henry, president of the GSAJ.

“In 2022, it is clearer than ever that the future is digital. Digital infrastructure is imperative to the development of the economy in Jamaica, more so since the COVID-19 pandemic, where many processes and services have shifted to remote delivery, using computers and the Internet,” she added.