5 Reasons Why it’s a Good Time to be a Home Based Worker


The last time I worked in an office was three years ago. I was based in Makati City and our office ran customer support and moderation services for a client from Australia for four years. A few months earlier, the client had terminated our contract.

My sometime routine was to park my car at Glorietta IV then make the 20 minute walk to our office. The walk back would be another 20 minutes for a total of 40 minutes walking time. It was my way of getting extra exercise every day.

I enjoyed walking past the stores; I found it fun watching people and observing how they would wind down their day. Occasionally I would pick up an action figure from “Filbar’s” for my son and a box of “Krispy Kreme” donuts.

That final walk was bittersweet because it marked the end of one career and the beginning of another. Life would change in less than 24 hours because I would no longer take a car to work and make the 20 minute walk to an office. I would no longer wear my polo barong, slacks and loafers. Instead, I would be in casual wear holding office in a secluded room in my own home.

The first few days felt strange because while working, I found myself receiving mail and answering phone calls. At work, I had a secretary and a messenger. During break time, I would be preparing the night’s dinner menu. For awhile, I missed the office lifestyle.

Three years later, I have no regrets.

Since I started working from home, I have become more productive. I developed new skills, improved on my many weaknesses and matured as a professional. The most significant breakthrough was overcoming my fears and discovering my abilities to take my business to the next level.  Of course, there were many disappointments and failures along the way. But there were also many great victories and wonderful blessings.

Working from home has its share of advantages and disadvantages. Among the notable advantages are:

  • Greater level of productivity
  • Lower expenses
  • More quality time with the family
  • Less stress
  • Work-related concerns are quickly addressed

Of course, there are also disadvantages:

  • Distractions: television, guitar and the sofa
  • Frequent interruptions: receiving mail and answering phone calls
  • Monotony

But overall, there are certainly more advantages and these are more significant.

The benefits of working from home became apparent when I had to go to Makati for a meeting with a client. The meeting was set for 1:00pm at Greenbelt 3. I left the house at 11:00am so I could have time to have a preliminary meeting with my associate at 12:00pm and we could go over strategy.

I got to Greenbelt 3 at 1:30pm. Traffic is the worst excuse you can give but in the Philippines, horrendous traffic appears to be a way of life. The client arrived much later at 2:30pm and she only came from Taguig!

Three years working from home and I can openly and honestly say this is the best time to start a home based business. More companies are looking to outsource work and working conditions will continue to get worse for the office employee.

Here are five (5) reasons to consider a home based career now:

1. There is an increased demand for services worldwide

Demand for home-based work is a function of two factors.

First, the evolution of digital technology and the growth in popularity of the Internet have driven the expansion of the industry for home-based workers. Second, the global recession and other world-changing events have necessitated a shift in corporate strategy. Businesses have undertaken measures to streamline operation costs without compromising productivity or quality of work. Thus, we have seen the exponential growth in the global outsourcing industry in the last 15 years, and home-based workers are among its beneficiaries.

In the United States, a growing number of large-scale companies have been integrating home-based workers into their staffing strategies. Home-based workers in the US are commonly referred to as “telecommuters.” The reasons for their increasing popularity are as follows:

  1. Greater productivity. A study conducted by Ctrip, a call center service provider, showed that home-based agents are 17% more productive than office-based employees.
  2. Worsening climate change. As ice storms and hurricanes increased in frequency and magnitude, many companies sought to include telecommuters in their workforce as contingencies.
  3. Increased cost savings. A study by Stanford University showed that telecommuting saves companies US$1,900 per employee per month and decreases employee turnover.

However, integration in the workforce is not the only option for home-based workers. There are successful medium- to large-scale companies, which adopted business models that are purely composed of home-based workers. Among these companies are as follows:

  1. Alpine Access is a call center company that uses customer service representatives who work from home. The company provides representatives for clients such as Office Depot and J. Crew.
  2. Extended Presence provides their clients with outbound sales agents and marketing support staff who work from home.
  3. Spheris provides services to support medical professionals, such as medical transcription and clinical documentation.

Popular online job markets, such as Elance, have noted the increase in the number of freelancers who have entered the industry. Since its acquisition of oDesk in December 18, 2013, Elance has grown to become the largest purveyor of online jobs for home-based workers. Elance-Upwork has more than 8 million freelancers and 2 million businesses using its network.

2. Digital technology has made work considerably manageable

In a recent presentation I had with a large-scale corporation, several key questions asked by its representatives had to do with project management.

  • How do you organize the work of your home-based agents?

As mentioned earlier, the evolution of digital technology has spurred the growth of the industry simply because managing projects is much easier at present than in 2009.

Several reputable and similarly effective project management programs are available online. Among the popular ones are Asana, Bitrix-24, and salesforce.com. These systems have user-friendly navigational systems, and they are highly accessible and, best of all, cost nothing.

When I started my business in 2013, I asked my IT manager to set up a proxy server with an extra PC. I kept the proxy server open during work hours and designated a separate broadband line for it. However, when I discovered collaborative programs such as Dropbox, Accellion, and Google Docs, which allow file sharing and assure clients security and integrity of documents, I discontinued use of proxy server.

  • How do you ensure work quality of agents?

The people I contract for my virtual team are paid per productive hour, which is based on the accomplishment of predefined milestones. They absolutely have to stay on course in their timelines.

However, these milestones are not set unrealistically. Milestones are designed according to the timetable of a client and with respect to the capacity of the home-based worker. We do not compromise work quality under any circumstance.

Programs that keep track of productivity, such as Hubstaff and Time Doctor, are available. Some clients would want to course projects through Elance platform, which has WorkView, a feature that allows you to monitor the screen of a freelancer.

  • What are your disaster recovery measures?

My home-based agents ARE my disaster recovery measures! They are dispersed throughout key areas in Metro Manila.

I have home-based workers in Makati, Quezon City, Muntinlupa, and Manila, which may have varying degrees of preparedness and conditions in times of natural disasters and power outages. They’re all confirmed to have a PC and a laptop, plus I provide a second broadband line as backup.

3. There is unlimited income potential

So as you’ve seen, there is demand for home-based workers worldwide. As a home-based worker, you own and manage your own enterprise. Therefore, you set the rules, guidelines, and conditions of work. You are not confined by a bundy clock or government-mandated work hours and holidays. You can accept as much work from different clients as you reasonably can.

Let’s assume for purposes of comparison, both a full-time employee or FTE and a home-based worker make Php 18,000 a month.

An FTE lets his pay be deducted with the appropriate taxes and contributions to government-mandated agencies. In addition, his daily expenses for transportation and food are estimated at Php 100 per day each. At the end of a month, he would barely have Php 5,000 left.

On the contrary, the home-based worker is responsible for accurate tax reporting and his monthly contributions to government-mandated agencies. However, he does not have transportation and food expenses. His only direct expenses are for the proportionate rate of utilities and the Internet. All told, he will net approximately Php 12,000 every month.

The differentiator in their respective fortunes is the ability of home-based workers to accept increased number of work, whereas FTEs are bound by the scope of work delegated by their employers. Assuming that a home-based worker works 8 hours a day, allocating 2 hours a day, 22 days a week per client at a rate of US$ 5 per hour, he will gross Php 40,000 a month.

This amount is 122% more than the earnings of FTE, who puts in the same work hours per month.

4. Working conditions for FTEs will only get worse

In the aforesaid meeting with the large corporation, it took me 2 hours to get to Rockwell from Muntinlupa, where I had to meet another prospective client. Traffic in Magallanes SLEX was horrible; trucks that were en route to Manila clogged all the lanes. By the time I got to the end of the overpass, there was heavier traffic as road works in EDSA constricted the movement of private and public vehicles.

After the meeting, there was a heavy downpour. In no time at all, the road going back to EDSA from Rockwell was flooded. By the time I got home, I had spent more hours navigating through traffic than in my meetings.

In a study by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Philippines loses Php 2.4 billion a day in potential income owing to worsening traffic conditions. For FTEs, traffic means frequent incidents of tardiness, less work done, and decreased incomes. FTEs are stressed daily by the hazards of daily commute and are not even spared with the added inconvenience of increased rates.

And it doesn’t figure to get any better as the country does not have a centralized traffic planning agency. You have Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), League of Metropolitan Mayors, and Land Transport and Franchising Regulatory Board (LTFRB), who all seem to want to have the last say in traffic.

Everyone has its own “grand design” to decongest traffic, and everyone opposes one another. No one respects the other’s authority and imposes its will regardless of what the other thinks. The result is chaos and more income down the clogged sewers. In the meantime, businesses and the people continue to suffer.

If it’s not traffic, it’s the Metro Railway Train (MRT) systems that are bogging down. In the past several months, commuters have been stranded because of trains shutting down owing to lack of proper maintenance and the absence of spare parts. Again, just like the traffic situation, the matter of improving MRT is subject to constant squabbling among government officials and agencies, and this issue remains currently embroiled in charges of graft and corruption.

The significance of resolving the traffic situation cannot be overemphasized in light of worsening climate change. The increase of ocean temperature results in stronger typhoons and hotter dry seasons. In the aftermath of these disasters are food shortages, which increase demand and subsequently the prices of commodities. Salaries remain constant while the prices of commodities continue to rise.

Whenever I read the business section and come across pronouncements from the government that inflation has remained consistent at 3%, I often wonder what commodities the government’s economists chose to comprise the basket of goods for the consumer price index and its base year.

Even when the world price of oil reached its lowest levels in years, prices of commodities and utilities continued to increase, or if they did decrease these prices, the amount wasn’t what you’d expected, given the decline in petroleum, which is considered a prime factor of production. Importers would say, “we bought raw materials when the US dollar was expensive; we still have to recover our investments.” Meanwhile, utility companies would say, “there is a power deficit and we do not have enough suppliers.”

It seemed to me that the Philippines is immune to the law of supply and demand.

As long as these conditions persist in our political structures, conditions are bound worsen for those who work in the concrete jungle.

5. This is the current trend

According to a report by Elance-Upwork, of its 8 million freelancers, one-eighth or a full 1 million freelancers are from the Philippines. According to Elance, its Philippine-based operations generate Php 9 billion or US$ 200 million in income ever year.

As worldwide demand for home-based workers continue to grow and as working conditions for FTEs continue to worsen, I believe many Filipinos will make the shift to home-based work.

Other factors that can contribute to the shift are as follows:

  1. Continued evolution in digital technology
  2. Aversion of most companies to regularize employees
  3. Lack of career and succession planning programs

We have already discussed the significance of digital technology’s evolution. Thus, for the two other factors, we only have to note the attrition rate in Philippine business process outsourcing (BPO) industry, the country’s newest engine of economic growth, which has been on the rise since 2008. It reached a high of 33% in 2011 but was eventually brought down to a more manageable level of 20% in 2015.

Working toward a stable increase in income between 7% and 7.5% over the next 2 years is one of the strategies. Thus, people who plan to enter BPO industry in the next 2 years should be relieved to know that in 2 years, they can look forward to an increase in pay of Php 1,350 or Php 19,350 per month.

Meanwhile, a contemporary can earn up to Php 45,000 per month as a home-based worker in the comforts of his own home, far away from the maddening crowd and the hustle and bustle of the daily commute.

If you are an FTE who plans to switch to a home-based work, I would strongly advise to start out slowly and apply for jobs that accept part-time work. Do not resign from your day job because it takes time and effort to build up your portfolio and enhance your reputation online.

However, once you have amassed a portfolio of stable, well-paying clientele who have maintained your services for at least 6 months with the assurance of more work and better pay, you can begin to say your farewell to the daily office grind and say hello into the loving embrace of home-based work.

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