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Manhattan restaurants use cashiers who live in the Philippines

As the customer approaches the counter to place an order through a self-service kiosk, a video-calling device, attached to the cash register lights up. The customer, instead of seeing a human being standing in front, will see the face of a cashier on a screen.


Working over video chat, the cashier will greet the customer with a wave and a smile and be ready to take his / her order. Whilst controlling the point-of-sale system, remotely, the cashier is all the while on standby to assist the customer who st the end of the interaction has the option to tip the cashier.


So, what’s the big deal? Big indeed; this “virtual” cashier is nowhere near the restaurant, let alone living in the country – just 13,000 km away.


In the fast-food industry, companies are looking to grow profit margins in a time of increasing wages. To brands that sell relatively cheap food, labour costs matter. Trying hard to stay afloat in a restaurant industry spending 36% of its cash on labour and with minimum wage climbing by the hour, a cluster of local New York City chains has found a clever way to save: enlisting the help of cashiers’ video calling in from the Philippines, and paying them way less.


Happy Cashier is the company behind the virtual cashiers, and a spokesperson confirmed that it hires employees from the Philippines to video call into the restaurant. The Happy Cashier job ads were posted by Longview Management Group, which describes itself as “a Philippines-based company that hires, pays, and manages highly qualified talent for US-based companies”.


The requirements in the ads include 20- to 40-hour rotational night shifts from Mondays to Fridays, as well as weekends. The salary listed in the job ads is 112 Philippines pesos (US$1.98) an hour, with the possibility of earning more from tips and performance bonuses. By comparison, the minimum wage in New York City is US$10.60 for tipped workers such as waiters.


Hiring virtual workers, including those from the Philippines, would cost restaurants a fraction of what they would pay in-person cashiers. Bringing in that person who is basically “virtually” there; this person can do all your customer service, just as if a real life server was just standing there.


One fast-food chain referring to these developments, described it as follows, “It is hoped that such labour optimization programmes would further assist partners in managing costs and protecting profitability.” On the other hand, for many fast food front-line workers, the implications of these innovations raise a scary question: how secure is my job?


Analysts believe the increasingly rapid adoption of transnational remote work will be a major factor in reshaping the global workforce in the near future. According to a 2023 Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum, nearly 25 per cent of jobs will be disrupted by 2027 and an estimated 83 million roles will disappear.


Source: External


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