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Call Center Boom Alters Work Habits in the Philippines

TMCnews Featured Article

March 08, 2012

Call Center Boom Alters Work Habits in the Philippines

By Chris Freeburn, TMCnet Web Editor

According to an article on, the rise of outsourced call center operations based in the Philippines has transformed labor practices in the country by introducing the concept of shift work, non standard and often changing work periods during the week.

Call centers employ shift workers to cover periods of time when their international customers are awake, and to deliver a continuous service process. Call centers are not the only outsourced business services driving shiftwork adoption among Filipinos, the article said. Medical transcription, computer animation, software development, back office operation, human resource management services have also accelerated the process. However, call centers remain by far the largest driver of shift work in the country.

Demand for shift workers has produced significant economic benefits for the Phillipines. It cited a study by the University of the Philippines Population Institute and the International Labor Organization that determined that business outsourced services had contributed $7.2 billion to the Philippines’ economy in 2009, and had created 70,000 jobs. By 2010, that number had exploded to 400,000 employees. The article noted speculation that the Philippines had already passed India the highest business outsourced service provider in 2010 “in the pure voice-based revenue and it is predicted that the industry will continuously grow.”

Where once shift workers were confined to  “hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, entertainment businesses, security agencies, transport establishments, hospitals and health care industries,” the largest source of such jobs in the country today is call center operations.

The article noted that the rise in shift jobs came with some challenges and unknowns. “High attrition rates have been observed among contact center employees and international studies have also shown that shift work affects employees’ health and well-being,” the article said.  “Many aspects of shift work have been explored in studies in the Philippines, but there is still a big gap in knowledge that needs to be addressed.”

The article noted that there was a lack of published studies examining “the Filipino chronotype in relation to shift work.” The chronotype shows the synchronization of internal biological clock to external clocks for each individual. Chonotype research had been led to “recommendations for improved shift schedules based on chronotype and sleep analysis” in other countries, the article said.  “Among Filipinos, the chronotype variation is not even known,” the article concluded.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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