Over the past few months, management at my company has been discussing the recent trend of Filipino employees working from home. We have noticed a significant spike in the number of Filipinos who are now working at home either in a full-time capacity or part-time after their regular office hours.

During our interview process for new applicants, we see an ever increasing number of employees with at least some experience working from home. Since this has been a topic of discussion in our office, I thought this would make and interesting topic for OutsourcingOpinions.com.

As I was formulating my thoughts for this topic, an email notification popped up from one of the groups I belong to in LinkedIn. It said that Raffy Pekson had posted a new topic called How to Employ At-Home Agents for your Business. In this timely article, Raffy lays out key factors that should be considered when employing at-home agents. His intention is to teach people the factors that need to be considered to make this a successful venture, however in laying out his road map, he very accurately describes almost all of the pitfalls that I myself had laid out in my outline for this article. He mentions issues such as internet connectivity, culture, and maturity.

So the question remains, is it a good or bad idea to hire home-based offshore employees? Obviously there are two schools of thought here. There is the John Jonas crowd that swears by hiring your own home-based employees. In fact, he makes a good living selling training tools on just how to do this, so obviously he thinks it’s a good idea, and he makes a good living selling this idea. Folks in his camp all have success stories of how Filipino home-based workers benefit them.

Then there is the group of people who have had the opposite experience working with home-based staff. People contact me all the time looking for a solution to the problems they had when trying to work directly with home-based staff. They consistently complain of the difficulties they have in scaling the workload, managing deadlines, competing priorities, and poor communication (ie the staff suddenly stops communicating). So obviously this model works for some but not for others.

But why? Based on my experience, the answer is simple.

It seems that those who are having success with home-based workers are typically outsourcing small scale, non-critical parts of their work, such as SEO/Social Media work for their personal or small business site. Those who are looking for more consistent, scalable and timely solutions are finding frustration with the home-based worker. And here is why:

Internet Connectivity

Typically, home-based workers will have residential grade connections that are fine for basic tasks and simple browsing, but are not prioritized by the telcos when there are network issues. In fact, standard response time to evaluate your connection problems for residences is 24-48 hours.

In my personal experience at my own home, I feel lucky if I can get them to respond within 48 hours. It usually takes one week and daily follow-up phone calls to get them to take action. This is not the case however in our office where we have redundant business grade connections, assigned account reps and prioritized support.

Imagine losing your employee for a few days while they wait for their connection to return! Yeah you might save on employee costs, but if they are working on time-sensitive processes then this is obviously a huge issue. If, however, they are working on things that won’t be affected by time, then you might be ok with this occasional scenario.

Poor Working Environment

Most Filipinos typically live at home with their families or stay in crowded boarding houses. As Raffy accurately describes in his article, “It takes some time for a typical Filipino family to understand the difference between work and play, or the work-at-home mind-set.”

Families may constantly interrupt the at-home worker throughout the day and expect them to perform family duties since they are at home. Also, these homes/boarding houses are typically in very close proximity with their neighbors and the environment can be very noisy and disruptive. An employee working in an office has the benefit of separating his office and family responsibilities as well as works in a quiet, professional environment more conducive to productive and efficient work.


Some of the calls I receive from people talk about how their initial experience was great. They found a great person who communicated well, was very responsible and was able to complete everything expected of them.

Then, as the workload grew and they needed to add more people to manage the workload, the frustration began. They found it difficult to find someone similar to the first person they hired. If they did find someone, it was more difficult to get them trained because they felt as if they were starting all over from scratch even though they already had someone successfully doing their work for them. It was difficult to get consistency. Hiring your first home-based worker creates one layer of separation between you and your worker.

As you attempt to scale this at-home model, multiple layers of separation are added into the mix making it more difficult to achieve consistency. When working with an outsourcing company you gain the benefit of having a team that is consolidated in one location. When you add people to the team, the existing employees are physically next to the new hires, able to better guide and train them, lessening the effort required by you to bring on these new employees and scale your business.

Also, because they are all together, it’s easier to manage and implement standards and achieve consistent results. On top of all of that, you get an experienced HR team to help you recruit and manage those employees.


Reliable communication is probably the single most valuable item when trying to make an outsourcing relationship work. When working with at-home workers, you might find a great employee, but you have no supporting network around that employee to communicate with you when problems arise. Imagine a scenario where your employee wakes up one night and has a high fever, so they go to the hospital and find out they have dengue fever. Immediately they are admitted to the hospital and end up staying there for one week.

They aren’t in a position to communicate with you and you are emailing them every day without any response. You have no idea what happened and if your work is being done. Even though their situation is understandable, the fact that you don’t know what is going on will frustrate and worry you. Having a supporting network around that employee that is always available to you gives you the confidence to always know what is going on and always have someone you can reach out to if you have any concerns.

In Summary

You can see that both scenarios have their pros and cons. Going directly to home-based employees cuts out the middle man and can save you money. And this is great for small, non-critical functions that won’t harm your business if they go offline for a couple of days. However, for more business-critical functions, or projects that scale beyond one or two employees, you will quickly see diminishing returns with home-based workers and the value of the money spent on a good outsourcing partner will quickly be realized.

So is it a good or bad idea to hire home-based workers? Only you can decide that based on your own personal needs. But hopefully my thoughts on the topic will help guide you in a direction that will most benefit you and your business.

Jeff Hintze
Chief Operating Officer
Phil-Am Outsourcing Solutions, Inc.


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