As countries were put in lockdown early this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic, homes became the automatic workplace alternative for many companies and their employees – the mandate then, after all, was to stay at home – and that included call centers in the Philippines.
But with economies reopening and businesses starting on their path to recovery, telecommuting, at least for this sector, has proven to be, at best, a band-aid solution during these uncertain times, and an unsustainable one in the long run for the majority of call centers says PITON-Global, an award-winning call center in the Philippines.
"The extended community quarantine implemented by the Philippine government forced call centers to either close or move to a work-from-home (WFH) customer support model – a logistical nightmare for call centers in the Philippines," says Ralf Ellspermann, CEO of PITON-Global.
Those who've had to attend virtual meetings or conferences would know that noise when working in one's residence, is inevitable and inescapable. There will be babies crying, dogs barking, and vehicles roaring past, which can easily distract both agents and clients on a call. And that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to challenges surrounding telecommuting for call centers in the Philippines, adds Ellspermann.
Clients in industries such as financial services, healthcare, and e-commerce, usually do not approve of WFH arrangements, primarily because of data security concerns. Dealing with sensitive information such as financial transactions and patient data requires a PCI- or HIPAA-compliant working environment – something that is impossible to set up in one's residence.
"In a fully PCI- and HIPAA-compliant call center environment, agents are prohibited from bringing their mobile devices, such as phones, to their workstations. It's a paperless work environment, so as to prevent anyone from taking down-sensitive client- or patient-related data," says Ellspermann, whose company's expertise lies in outsourcing solutions for the fintech, healthcare, e-commerce, and internet (on-demand) industries.
"On top of that, there are CCTV cameras strategically placed throughout the facility. It's an ultra-secure work environment that ensures that client data is protected at all times," he adds.
And, of course, let's not forget that there's a high probability that one's home internet connection may not be stable enough to handle voice-related call center work.
But this is not to say that all outsourced work can't be done in a home setting. Back office-related tasks such as content development, graphic design, photo-editing, image annotation, and other similar work can also easily be done from home, says Ellspermann. These positions might stay where they are and not return to call centers in the Philippines in the near future.