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The nature of work has transformed globally. Permanent and flexible work-from-home (WFH) arrangements are here to stay for many western nations. And it should come as no surprise, that staff in developing countries are interested in this model too. But, before you try a WFH model with staff in the developing world, there are some key factors you need to be across.

In western nations, WFH has mostly been deemed a success, but it hasn’t been without its issues. One major issue being the inequitable nature of the work environment.

Not every ‘home office’ is ideal, which has created an inequitable workforce. For instance, Jane may be married with no kids living in a penthouse with a private home office. But Bob may be a dad living with his two kids in a two-bedroom house – the ironing board his stand-up desk, the dinner table his open plan office.

The developing world is no different – but where it’s inequitable, the gap is far greater making WFH, unworkable.

The Philippines and South Africa are two popular countries for outsourcing – and our destinations of choice at Staff Domain. And the fact is, that in both countries there is a demand for remote working.

In truth, a WFH model is not impossible. During the pandemic, we ourselves had to move everyone to a temporary WFH set-up and were invested in getting it to succeed for our staff and clients. But it is difficult. There are some key factors that hinder getting WFH to really – work – in the long-term for these countries, and other developing nations you might outsource to.

Here are 5 factors you need to be across:

1. Living Conditions

Successful remote working is highly dependent on living conditions. In developing nations, it’s not uncommon to have small living spaces, or to live with extended family. As a result, working from home can be neither a productive nor a comfortable option.

2. Internet Access

While offices in major cities have the infrastructure in place for high-speed internet, it can be a real problem in regional areas where staff might be living. According to the Speedtest Global Index, the average download speed for broadband in the Philippines is only 94.66Mbps, and in South Africa it’s even slower at 63.77Mbps. To give you perspective, the download speed in the US is 225.51 Mbps. That’s a significant difference!

3. Power costs and supply

Power costs in the Philippines are among the highest in Asia, and South Africa’s electricity price is above the global average. In the office, there’s aircon, electricity and high-speed internet to help staff work productively and comfortably – without any money out of their own pockets.

And power isn’t always available. Since 2008, South Africa has been load shedding as a way to manage the demand and supply of household electricity. That is, on and off outages throughout the day to help conserve the use of power. There are hours or even days where consistent power isn’t available in households.

4. Work-life boundaries

One of biggest issues to come out of WFH arrangements worldwide, has been a lack of work-life boundaries. Add to this a time-zone difference, and the challenge only escalates. There’s the risk of staff in developing countries working way beyond their paid hours and being taken advantage of. You might send an email at 9am, but in another country this could be late very at night. If staff are working from home, they may feel an obligation to be responsive. Particularly, in places like the Philippines, where culturally staff are very hardworking and eager to please.

5. Access to support

It’s important to remember that the quality of life is significantly different in developing countries. In many cases, there may be hesitancy to speak up about workload stress or burnout due to fear of job security. Or, because resigning or moving jobs is just not an option. In South Africa, the unemployment rate is at well over 30%. How willing do you think staff are to speak up against their employers? In an office setting, there are stricter work-life boundaries, and greater opportunities for HR or team mates to check-in with staff.

In short – what works for you, doesn’t mean it will work overseas. To set your staff up for success, they need a productive and comfortable work environment. And unfortunately, in many cases, working from home doesn’t lend to this for people in developing countries.

At Staff Domain we’ve invested in building world class offices that great talent want to work from. In fact, our facility in Manila was even designed and developed by the development company behind Google’s offices in Manila.

Every one of our offices have spacious workstations with large desks, double monitors, and ergonomic chairs. We only equip our employees with top-tier equipment from reputable and leading brands like DELL, Datto, Apple, NEC, and Samsung. And we’ve invested into creating relaxation and recreational areas – because everyone needs a chance to unwind or have fun. This includes gaming areas, well stocked kitchens and big screen TVs for those sports matches or news they don’t want to miss. Learn more about our facilities here.

A little curious?

Schedule a consultation, and we’ll answer any questions. Plus, how we could help you build teams in South Africa and the Philippines that work only for you from our world class offices.

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