August 14, 2017
Carmen Reyes – Architectural Insight in BPO Offices in the Philippines
August 14, 2017
Today, Derek is joined by Carmen Reyes and they will discuss regarding office fitting and standard office environment in the Philippines.
- Carmen Reyes is an architect and Derek personally used her expertise in Manila to fit out his office.
- The basic office in the Philippines has similar standards to the west. There’s usually soundproofing, carpeting and storage space. However, Carmen thinks that one thing that would be more significant for the Philippines in particular because of the culture would be an open layout where the workspaces are all in one space. There’s fewer partitioning.
- According to Carmen, Filipinos are very sociable, they always need to connect with other people. They tend to get very lonely if they’re forced to be isolated.
- There’s a common misconception or maybe just a knowledge gap of what kind of conditions outsourcing staff are kept in. The idea of sweatshops always come into mind. However, according to Carmen, people are functioning in the Philippines like the rest of the world. Not behind bars and not cramped like sardines for the most part.
- There are restrictions in terms of density for office spaces, the number of workers per square meter. This is very heavily regulated in the.Philippines.
- There’s also a pro-labor aspect to the Philippines. Certainly, in the BPO sector. There are a lot of organizations overlooking the office environment to ensure that it’s safe and healthy.
- Derek discussed that if a company has over 50 staff, then the company might need to employ a nurse either a resident nurse or on call.
- There is a higher level of volatility and maybe, reduced reliability in the workforce overall. But then again that’s why there is a need to create an office environment and that’s why there are systems in place to prevent this.
- It’s also helpful to have someone from the top building the company culture. So, the conduct manual would be very important in setting the tone for the new hires.
- According to Carmen, culturally, Filipinos are accustomed to having foreign things imposed on them.
- Filipinos have a strong sense of community.
- Derek intended the podcast to be about physical space but Carmen talked more about the softer aspects.
- According to Carmen, an article recently cited the Filipinos as the most emotional race in the world.
- Some Filipinos are not that mature in a sense that they’re unable to self-regulate when given too much freedom.
TranscriptRead Full Transcript
Welcome to another episode of Outsource Accelerator. My name is Derek Gallimore. Today I’m joined by Carmen Reyes who is an architect and I have personally used in Manila to fit out my office. Now the reason why I’m talking to Carmen is because she’s actually just a bowl of knowledge about a lot of stuff so there’s good insight there but there is a natural journey that a lot of people that outsource take and it’s very common for people to take one, two or three stuff and start with a BPO. But then eventually branch out on their own and incorporate and fit out their own office just like a normal business in your own country. And if you want to do that that’s good but there’s a lot of things to consider if you’re going to do that. And Carmen provides some great insight into all of that. In this podcast so it’s a little bit left of center but there’s some really good nuggets there and I’m sure you’ll enjoy, if you do want any information about Carmen or anything discussed on this podcast, go to our website and it is outsourceaccelerator.com/podcast/episode38. Enjoy.
Derek: Today we are joined by Carmen Reyes of Core Design. Carmen’s an architect here in Manila and I have actually used Carmen previously for a fit out of one of our offices and she was she provided exceptional advice and works. Hi Carmen, how are you. And thank you for that.
Carmen: Thank you. I’m glad you were to meet the expectations.
Derek: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Sure.
So today and as you know our audience are most likely sitting outside of the Philippines and maybe in the U.S. and the U.K. and there very well maybe there are very different standards in office housing and you know sort of office standards. What I would like to discuss with you initially is to give people an idea of standard office environments in Manila specifically what you would find within you know BPO and outsourcing environments. Maybe in relationship to a cheaper outsourcing in the province and then one may be in Manila for example.
Carmen: I guess the first thing there would be a full range of types of offices. The different categories different. How you say different treatments. But the basic office is pretty, it’s pretty standard. It’s usually some kind of soundproofing material a lot of soft finishing carpet somewhere. Storage space but I think what would be more significant for this country in particular just because of the, just because of the culture would be an open layout where there’s connections workspaces are all in one space. There’s fewer partitioning.
Carmen: Yeah. So, there’s a lot.
Derek: They have a strong sense of community. I am sure you will see the canteen, kitchen area is very important in the BPO.
Carmen: Yes. Of course, of course that’s where a lot of the socialization happens. So, it’s very very important. Filipinos are very relational, very sociable or they always need to connect with other people. So, it’s always a good thing to provide them. They tend to get very lonely if they’re forced to be isolated.
Derek: And so, there’s maybe quite a common misconception or maybe just a knowledge gap of what kind of conditions outsourcing staff are kept in and you know right at one extreme there’s maybe an idea of people sitting in a sweatshop. But the reality is quite different, isn’t it? I mean so many BPOs are so specialists that you’ve got three or four monitors and you’ve got huge amount of IT software.
Carmen: Yeah, it’s very case to case again. But I think that there is I would say as long as they are given a level of flexibility in terms of how they can dress up their spaces, their workstations, a degree of personalization is allowed like having very little objects or you know little mementos things of the family something nostalgic.
Yeah. If they’re able to kind of personalize their space and express, use it as a means of expression of who they are. And of course, everybody understands they know once you’re out of the professional and time zone. And then back in the pantry were you able to chill out a little bit more. It comes through that then everyone is very keen on having that kind of expressiveness and connection with other people. It’s a very personal, personal thing. Yeah. I wouldn’t think that sweatshop idea. I think it’s a little bit.
Derek: Yeah, it’s extreme. Isn’t it?
Carmen: Yeah, a little bit extreme. We’re functioning like the rest of the world I would say, we’re not behind bars and we’re not cramped like sardines for the most part. In any case as far as I can tell there are restrictions in terms of density for office spaces, for number of workers, per square meter for example.
Derek: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, that is. It is actually very heavily regulated in the Philippines is a better or worse maybe but it says something that certainly it is very well. There’s quite a pro-labor aspect to the Philippines certainly in the BPO sector. So, there is a lot of organizations that are overlooking the office environment and ensure that it’s safe and healthy. And things like that.
Carmen: Yeah. Well it’s just a matter of getting these permits. For example, you have the occupancy permit and they really check how many people are you fitting into this space and PEZA in particular is quite strict with the regulations.
Carmen: There’s also the fire code.
Derek: Ah yeah, yeah.
Carmen: Also, the fire code restrictions because the annual fire inspections and there is also a density rule which is. It’s just a little tricky because the rules for one agency is different from the rule for another agency and you know there’s no consensus. Yeah. It’s just you just have to find the more stringent one and then go with it.
Derek: And a little known but slightly fun fact is it true that when you have over a certain amount of staff within a building you have to provide a health and safety nurse. Is that correct?
Carmen: Oh. Well I have not actually come across this.
Derek: Maybe it’s a little bit far from architecture. But yeah I heard that if you have over 50 staff then you need either a resident or certainly a nurse on call.
Carmen: That’s interesting. If it would make sense to have one on call. I mean we’ve had the Department of Labor I expect has a lot of considerations.
Carmen: Yeah. Health and Safety is always top of line. Human resources are important in that sense. Yeah. They’re just out to protect the workforce. And I think that the tendency there may be a tendency for employers to of course. I mean it’s always bottom line that’s a major concern. So, you want to fit in as many people as possible. You want to get people working as long as possible. You know it’s I guess they’re just preventing any kind of abuse.
Derek: Yeah. And it is funny that you know I want to have a chat to you about the physical space but you’re actually geared more towards the softer aspects. And you know building the community and getting them engaged and maybe that you know what makes you such a good architect. But that is really front and center for a lot of BPO is an office environment, isn’t it? Because of course just like in the West if people are disengaged then people don’t want to come to work then they’re not going to work as hard and the efficiency will drop. But it’s maybe more the case in the Philippines because the work place for Filipinos is almost like a second family, isn’t it? So.
Carmen: It is. It is. Again, it’s always the social aspect. Everyone is constantly building a network. They’re building a community wherever they’re at. And it’s very easy for Filipinos to get demotivated. If conditions aren’t right, if they’re not appreciated they’re also I’m sure you’ve heard of that article that cited the Filipinos as the most emotional race in the world.
Derek: Right. Now I haven’t, I will read that.
Carmen: Yeah go check it out I think it was with CNN or one of those. It’s like an international publication.
Carmen: And yeah. They’ve noticed that Filipinos are the most emotional. So, a lot of the decisions are based on how they’re feeling. So, if something happened in the workplace like it maybe to a lesser degree for, for yuppies who are in a more corporate setting because there’s protocol that they need to follow. But there are cases for some companies where people just won’t show up for work because they just don’t to want to or they’ll just go with absent without leave over a family emergency.
Carmen: You know like all these cases I think more in the construction industry. I’ve been told that a day after payday workers don’t show up for work without letting you know.
Derek: And that is very much a huge consideration is having obviously managed people in an office myself. There is a higher level of volatility and maybe reduced reliability in the workforce overall. So then again that’s why you have an office environment and that’s why you have systems in place of redundancy and KPIs too.
Carmen: And it’s helpful to have someone on top building the company culture. So, the conduct manual would be very important in setting the tone for the new hires. And this is no longer an environmental related operation. But I mean I’ll just touch on it briefly and it’s, it’s actually quite significant.
And yeah just communicating if a certain culture that someone would want to have in place is desired that needs to get in there from the get-go. And it takes I think a very important person either HR or manager or just someone who understands how to set this in place. It’s important to have someone like this. Just to make sure that you know you’re not addressing things as they come along and things are just you know the standard is set from the very beginning so that gets expressed through the hiring process and then through the conduct manual or the company manual of what’s allowed what’s not allowed. And yeah of course implementation in the end and consistency.
Derek: Yeah, they’re very good points on that because it’s I think what people would notice coming from the west as the people in the Philippines do appreciate a lot more structured environment. It’s sort of popularized in the West to have a startup environment where you know five, ten, twenty people with virtually no structure and or Filipinos don’t really respond so well in that environment do they? Without the structure.
Carmen: Yeah. Their views can go both ways. There’s a little bit too much leniency, yeah, they tend to I guess it’s we’re, we’re a little less mature in that sense that we’re unable to self-regulate as well when we’re given too much freedom. Yes.
Derek: That actually occurred to me a few times. I mean the BPO industry is relatively mature at about 20-25 years old. But in terms of the general population of the Philippines working within an office environment I mean in London you know people had been working in offices for 200 years. But here is it maybe because it is more of a first generation and into the second generation where any real volumes are working in offices so there is a kind of a maturation phase there. Do you think?
Carmen: That’s a difficult thing. I mean offices have been around for a while here although I would say it’s highly important just like our educational system just like almost everything our laws or policies medical system a lot of it’s imported from the U.S. or maybe some remnants of old Spain. I think we, culturally we’re accustomed to having these foreign things imposed on us. Yeah so, I can’t say actually I haven’t really thought about this.
Derek: It was a bit of a.
Carmen: That much of an extent, it’s definitely something to think about. It’s definitely a consideration but yes, I mean there is the whole history as well to consider our colonization, culture. Also, the way the government treats the citizens. There have been a lot of I won’t touch on politics but there’s a lot of.
Derek: We’ll get you back on another episode on that one.
Carmen: I can refer somebody.
Derek: Now, that’s perfect. Now that’s fantastic. Thank you so much, Carmen. And if people want to get in touch with you how, how could they reach out and I will also put I’ll put that article in the show notes and also, I will have your contact details in the show notes.
Carmen: Yeah, sure.
Derek: What is your access.
Carmen: Email I can be reached by email at email@example.com
Okay. Hope you got some good information there. It’s really a bit of a hornet’s nest to do a fit out. You know the Philippines is somewhat more bureaucratic than a lot of the West in inverted commerce. And it’s it’s not to be taken lightly. However, it is still a very good option if you are outsourcing and you want to go the next step because inevitably it is more economic in the long run. So, if you want any more information about Carmen or this episode of our show know it’s outsourceaccelerator.com/podcast/episode38. And if you want anything on answered please do drop us an email. You can do that at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get straight back to you. Thanks.