NORTHGATE Cyberzone is located within Filinvest City, Alabang, Muntinlupa. — COMPANY HANDOUT

THE business process outsourcing (BPO) industry is expected to drive demand for office spaces in the Philippines, according to a Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) report prepared for Filinvest Land, Inc. (FLI).

“The information technology-business process management (IT-BPM) industry may continue to spearhead demand for office spaces and this potential new trend of setting up satellite offices would be a strategic fit for the industry considering the significant number of employees in the sector,” JLL said in an Office Market Study of Metro Manila and Metro Cebu.

Many BPO companies allowed employees to work from home (WFH) due to lockdown restrictions amid the pandemic.

“This global trial of remote work proved that work-from-home setup was generally feasible. However, in the Philippines, access to stable internet connection at home was one of the early hurdles that the businesses faced amid lockdowns. Also, internet connection in the country is not that affordable and not all families have the financial capacity to purchase such services. Also, one of the primary risks of a WFH setup is the risk of data security breaches since employees are relying on unsecured network at home,” JLL said.

JLL said many BPO companies are likely to set up satellite offices outside of Metro Manila.

It expects leasing activity to rise in Cebu City, Clark in Pampanga, and Bacolod City in Negros Occidental.

FLI, which is planning to list its real estate investment trust (REIT) through subsidiary Cyberzone Properties, Inc. (CPI), is expanding around the country with Filinvest Mimosa+ and Filinvest New Clark City and City di Mare in Cebu.

FLI’s REIT portfolio includes 16 buildings in Northgate Cyberzone and one office tower with a retail component in Cebu Cyberzone.

“These 17 buildings were handpicked for the initial portfolio of FILRT due to the quality and diversity of its tenant mix,” CPI President and Chief Executive Officer Maricel Brion-Lirio said in a statement.

Majority or 88.4% of its tenants are said to be multinational BPO firms. Traditional and retail tenants only make up for 8.8%, while Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators account for a mere 2.8%.

CPI has an application with the Securities and Exchange Commission to change its name to Filinvest REIT Corp. (FILRT). — K.C.G.Valmonte