May 19

Understanding Local Business Practices and Culture

The Philippines, dubbed as the “bright spot of Asia” and the “BPO Capital of the World,” is among today’s top global outsourcing destinations. In 2018, the IT and Business Process Management of the Philippines (IBPAP), reported that the local BPO industry earned a total annual revenue of $23 billion. The same study also projected that by 2022, the industry could further increase its yearly revenue to $40 billion. Undeniably, the BPO sector has become one of the fastest-growing industries in the country and has continuously attracted a number of international clients and businesses to outsource to the Philippines.

However, outsourcing in the Philippines is not without its minor challenges, mostly around communication and culture, which can be easily addressed with a little bit of empathy and education. When you hire Filipino staff, be aware of these distinctly Filipino business practices and customs.

  1. Local Holidays

There are 12 regular holidays in the Philippines spread out in a year, with special non-working holidays added in between. While BPO companies usually adhere to its clients’ local holidays, it would be advisable for business owners to also be aware of these occasions. Some staff members might ask their employers for time off during these dates.

  1. Cordial and Friendly Atmosphere

Filipinos are prone to avoiding conflict, with “keeping face” a very important aspect of workplace dynamics. This is why communication is usually non-confrontational. When reprimanding your staff, it’s always best to take them aside and do it privately. Developing a good rapport with your staff moves business along.

  1. Hierarchy and Etiquette

Like most Asian countries, Filipinos are very particular about respect and hierarchy. Filipinos love to call their superiors by their titles—be it Sir/Ma’am, Doctor, Attorney, etc. Most international clients, however, prefer to be called just by their first name. When meeting your staff for the first time, it’s better to establish right away how you would want to be addressed, to avoid any confusion.

  1. Sensitive topics

There are certain values that Filipinos hold close to their hearts. Some of your staff may be sensitive to topics concerning religion, politics, family, and racial inequality. It is always better to be careful when bringing up non-work related topics that might be too personal for your staff.

  1. Unique local and rural mindset

Apart from Metro Manila, the strategic advisory firm Tholons included Philippine provinces such as Bacolod, Baguio, and Iloilo in its “Top 100 Outsourcing Destinations” report. Most Philippine provinces have their own unique languages, customs, and traditions. If you are thinking of outsourcing to some of these provincial cities, it would be best to brush up on the usual business practices of that particular locale.

Every country has its own distinct customs and traditions, and this holds true particularly for the Philippines, which is a melting pot of different cultures. By learning and understanding these unique practices, you can ensure a harmonious working relationship with your staff and get the most out of them.

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Disclaimer: The above article was written according to the information available as of press time.
All opinions and beliefs expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Remote Staff's, its employees, subcontractors, clients, and affiliates.

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