The Call Center Culture
Feb 8, 2008
In early 2000, the buzz about call centers reached Filipino ears. For many, the call center job was a glamorous one, with agents receiving an above average salary, an invisible "Outstanding in English" certificate, and bragging rights for catering to first-world countries. For some, it also meant being situated in the heart of the business districts in Metro Manila, particularly Makati and Ortigas.
The country changed significantly as a result of the call center boom. On the macro point of view, the Philippine economy benefited highly from the flourish in foreign revenues, prompting the government to find ways to further this industry, by increasing funds to build more call centers and English proficiency schools.
On the micro side, call center agents were able to enjoy the benefits of a stable income. Could it be just coincidence that personal spending has been on a constant uptrend in the past years, with the highest growth rate of 5.8% for the year 2004, and a 4.9% growth rate for 2005? (See 1)
Not all is peachy in call center land, however. Man's normal behavior is to work during the day and sleep by night, so there is stress associated with the abnormal nocturnal lifestyle. An interesting study shows that the rise in people working for call centers has contributed to the rise in cigarette consumption, as a way to vent out stress and fatigue (See 2). I believe almost every Filipino know this phenomenon to be true, as we see packs of Filipino call center agents sit on steps outside their offices to take a smoke or two.
Ultimately, there is always a good and bad side to every career path. Every job has its perks and its pains. The key point is to base your career choice on your priorities - money, time, growth, etc. Certainly, if you are looking for an income higher than the minimum out of college wage, and a chance to hone your communication skills, then the call center route is one serious consideration.