Outsourcing Is Reshaping the Philippines' Cities
The ability to outsource all kinds of business processes is creating massive, vertical company towns in the suburbs.
Outsourcing is, in some ways, an old story: Cheap labor pulls in global corporations in search of profits.
But it's playing out in diverse ways in different countries and industries.
Recently, the creation of what I call cyborg telemarketers drew my attention to the burgeoning call center and outsourcing scene in the Philippines. But the scale of the phenomenon continues to astound me.
Megaworld, a developer that creates properties for "business process outsourcing" (BPO) companies is investing $5 billion into creating 10 "townships" for these corporations and their workers.
Those townships will constitute some 16 million new square feet of office space over the next ten years, according to Bloomberg. But the offices are merely the centerpieces of entire planned communities of homes and shops.
BPO workers need to live close to their offices because they are usually operating on the time of another country, probably one halfway across the world. And the shops they frequent, I assume, must also understand that the place is operating in (at least) two time zones at once.
Megaworld is following the model set by its development called Eastwood, a 40-acre site eight miles from the center of Manila that draws 100,000 people every day.
"Megaworld is duplicating Eastwood in six other parts of Manila," Bloomberg reports, "and building other developments in Lapu Lapu, Iloilo and Davao, cities in central and southern Philippines."
The sites will be dense and tall, casting long shadows over the rest of the low-slung Manila suburbs, just like Eastwood does now.
Who knows what will become of areas like this in 40 years, but for now, they're as distinctive a marker of a certain kind of business (and technical) operation as the smoke stacks of the Rust Belt or the sloped roofs of Pizza Hut.