At the peak of the pandemic, the rise of digital transactions set a demand for business owners to up their game in logistics, design, and marketing. In a recent report published by Payoneer, it ranked the Philippines as the fastest-growing freelancing country, with a 208% growth in 2020 (based on year-on-year revenue growth).
Businesses are starting to realize that when costs need to be cut, having a growing workforce of virtual staff can provide them with both quality of service and flexibility to scale. After all, with so many businesses already working remotely, does it matter where your employees or freelancers are based anymore?
M-Ocean CEO Mark Jacinto recently hosted a virtual round table with 22 Filipino freelancers who have been in the “gig economy” for at least four years. All come from different industries, from administrative work, e-commerce and Amazon FBA, email marketing, to social media management. Most, if not all, noted upping their skills and closing new contracts during the pandemic.
The demand for Filipino virtual workers has indeed skyrocketed, and there are plenty of reasons for that. This article gives you six major reasons why you need to hire remotely and why Filipinos are your best option.
Freelancing is new, BPO not
The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry is one of the Philippine economy’s two primary drivers, contributing $26 billion to the economy in 2019. Over 1.2 million Filipinos are currently employed by companies in the US, Australia, and the UK. They provide services for overseas corporations, including facilitating travel and insurance cover, customer support for technology, and telehealth services.
“Since the early 2000s, large US and global companies have been offshoring their “non-critical” business processes and functions to outsourcing hubs in the Philippines and India,” says Mark. His experience includes working as a recruitment manager and AVP for Global Markets Operations at HSBC Global Banking and Markets.
Since M-Ocean’s inception in 2015, Mark noticed a shift in how outsourcing is utilized. He added, “In the past five years, outsourcing has become available to SME’s and entrepreneurs thanks to the Internet and the rise of freelancers and digital nomads. But what’s interesting is that not only “non-critical” roles are being outsourced but also “key functions” like marketing, creative design, supply chain, operations management, finance and planning, among others.”
Filipinos transcend cultural barriers
Cultural integration is a significant consideration when hiring a remote employee. The Philippines is the most Westernized county in Asia. Its education system is patterned from the United States, and a vast majority of Filipinos have worked in BPOs or call centers and dealt with customers for companies like large US banks and telcos.
The British Council already recognized the Philippines in 2015 as one of the largest English-speaking nations. English has always been one of the official languages of the Philippines and is spoken by more than 14 million Filipinos. It is the language of commerce and law, as well as the primary medium of instruction in education.
Most Filipino virtual assistants have experience working for offshore clients even before plunging into freelancing. Out of our 22 round table attendees, 15 started their careers in the corporate space. Chances are, they have already provided similar services that you are looking for.
“I just took a leap of faith because it all made sense to me. I was stuck in the idea that you needed a college degree to work in marketing, business, or IT. Or for medical people or engineers to transition to the online industry. I was caught in that belief, and looking back I never imagined I would now be on the same road as these guys,” Peter Gabriel shared during the round table. He now works as the recruitment marketing and social media director for Hello Rache, a VA service for medical professionals.
Filipinos are known for their grit
Remember when typhoon Haiyan shocked the global community in 2013? Resilience is an understatement for how Filipinos can quickly adapt to situations and bounce back from adversities. They always manage to stick to their cores and focus on their end goal, whether it be calamities or personal tragedies.
In the freelancing space, they are used to keeping up with the pace of western countries. Filipino remote workers are used to grinding it out, constantly upping their skills, and adapting well to pressure.
One of our round table participants, John Gabriel Bago, an email marketer for e-commerce stores and a member of Copywriting Dojo Philippines, shared how he was able to pull his family out of a financial rut with freelancing. “We were in a bad spot back then, our family business started taking a dip and lost literally everything. Those were very difficult times, and minimum wage was not really an option for me. It was during those times that I discovered what a person can do when their back is against the wall. Freelancing is what pulled us out of that situation, and we’re now in a much better place.”
Expect professionalism from Filipinos
Filipino virtual workers are not just run-of-the-mill fresh graduates. A vast majority of them are professionals with years of experience who decided to work from home. Take note, Manila’s traffic congestion is the second-worst in the world, among 416 cities. With an ailing public transportation system, the average Filipino spends an additional 29 minutes in traffic for every 30-minute travel during a daytime rush.
That’s 257 hours — some solid 10.5 days in a year they can’t take back that could have been spent productively. That is why even professionals with CPA, JD, and RN under their belts find freelancing lucrative and are already hopping on the gig economy wagon.
Our round table participant Irene Caparas-Espinal was in corporate for 11 years before diving into freelancing. A mom of four, she presently provides Amazon FBA Coaching for other freelancers. “When I made that 180-degree transition in my career in 2013 and became a virtual staffing professional, I really valued seeing my kids’ milestones. My husband has a great job but I want my participation in providing them a better future. The best blessing of this industry is it gets you equipped — it is so dynamic, there are things that you didn’t know exists. You just jump on it and learn new things. Other Filipinos deserve to know that there are tons of opportunities for them,” says Irene.
With a high regard for family, you can also expect your Filipino virtual assistant to make a great deal of effort to make your business partnership work. They are culturally raised to respect authority, and the same transcends to working relationships. They stick to diplomatic communication and articulate their opinions with humility. You can expect an open dynamic and a positive relationship with Filipino virtual workers.
Filipinos are competent and cost-effective
According to the UNESCO Institute’s Literacy Rate Statistics, the Philippines’ literacy rate for people ages 15-24 is 99% as of 2015. Aside from a good command and proficiency in the English language, not only do Filipino virtual workers have an edge in communication, but also possess the ability to learn new skills to fulfill tasks along the way.
It comes as no surprise that Filipinos are thriving in this virtual work setup. With the country’s tertiary education system effectively segregating the haves and the have nots, coupled with its obsession for university diplomas even for cashier positions, freelancing levels the playing field. It provides Filipinos equal opportunities to join the global workforce and showcase their skillsets no matter where they are or their situation.
Filipino freelancers can take on management roles
Out of 22 roundtable participants, seven are startup founders with international clients and were able to do so within a decade of freelancing. Three have already worked their way up from general administration to director roles in less than 3 years.
If you are planning to build a remote team of Filipino virtual workers, hiring an Operations Director within your business could be one of the best decisions you can make for your company and can save you a ton of time. Another option is outsourcing your recruitment to a firm based in the Philippines to ensure that your prospective candidates not only match your requirements but also your company’s culture.
If you’re considering hiring a Filipino freelancer today, feel free to ask us anything! Book a call here or inquire about our bi-weekly round table for business owners at firstname.lastname@example.org.