Home-based alternative to call centre offshoring

2003

New technology could help create call centres in the homes of UK workers, according to a story in today’s Independent, something that could provide an economic alternative to a mass overseas exodus of these types of jobs.

Jarrow-based firm Amicus Outsourcing is trialling the home-working concept and says that it can match the £8 to £10 an hour that it costs a UK company to run a seat in an Indian call centre.

Using new voice over IP telephony technology that sends voice traffic over a broadband internet connection, the firm is able to connect remote workers to their central call centre.

Martin Wicks, a UK-based director, said advances in technology had lessened the need to relocate overseas. "One of the arguments for going overseas is to remove costs but that's quite short-sighted as it won't be long before costs start increasing there," he said. "If we are innovative in our technology we negate the reason to go overseas in the first place."

Others are less convinced, however.

Martin Hill-Wilson, the strategy director at Datapoint, a company with two decades of experience in call centres, said he doubted virtual call centres would take off. "The question is whether homeworking is a viable alternative to the offshore model and I don't really think it is an alternative and that all comes to economics." He said 60 per cent of the cost was wage costs with an average salary of £13,000, some 16 per cent technology investment and the balance was a mix of overhead costs.

The Independent | Now for the call centre in your living room