What are the best options for setting up an office in the Philippines?

by Rob Rawson
offices in the philippines

With Staff.com and Time Doctor, I have over 50 staff working in our business in 9 different countries. I’ve decided not to go down the route of setting up an office in one location. Instead I’ve followed a distributed model with team members all around the world, but the largest number are in the Philippines, for some very good reasons.

Why the Philippines?

There are a number of reasons why entrepreneurs choose to outsource to the Philippines, but I think the most important is that the Philippines has the largest number of English speaking people, when comparing with other low cost outsourcing destinations. Some very large international companies have an outsourcing operation based in the Philippines including: JPMorgan Chase Bank, Accenture, IBM, HSBC, Citibank and many others. There is a good reason why they have decided to locate their call centers and some back end support services in the Philippines. There are also some great advantages to the Philippines with their infrastructure, culture and education of the workforce.

The in-office model versus a distributed team

So if you’re hiring in the Philippines should you look at an in-office model or a distributed model? I’m a part of an entrepreneurial network (EO), all of whom run multi-million dollar businesses. I’m constantly seeing these businesses set up offshore operations in the Philippines and other countries. Most of them choose to set up an office or to use a BPO (Business process outsourcing) company to do it all for them. Although I actually prefer the option of hiring remotely, I can definitely see that it’s not for everyone. Many serious entrepreneurs choose to set up an office because it offers them several advantages.

Here are some of the potential advantages of a distributed versus and in-office set up:

office vs distributed team chart

So in the end I think you need to weigh up the benefits for your organization and make your own decision.

Your first steps in setting up an office

There are several models to consider:

  • You can look at hiring a BPO that does all of it for you and charges an ongoing percentage of the person’s salary.
  • You can get into a seat leasing arrangement where you pay a per-person fee to house your staff in a shared office space and handle the payroll arrangements.
  • You can also do it yourself; fly over, set up a company and rent an office. I would personally not recommend the do-it-yourself model of actually setting up your own office, because it’s a major hassle, a lot less flexible and will likely only save you money if you hire over 50 staff.

Mike's Manila Tours discussion

I do not have recommendations of specific BPO companies, but one option for learning how to get started is Mike’s Business Tours.

Mike is a successful entrepreneur from Australia who has done it all himself and has a large team in the Philippines. He takes entrepreneurs through a complete education process about how to get started. He also introduces you to BPO companies in Manila, but does not take commissions from anyone that he refers you to. This means that it’s an impartial way for you to go to Manila and learn how to get everything set up correctly from the beginning.

Let me know your own thoughts about the best options for getting started, and in choosing an in-office versus a distributed model for your company.

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