Philippines Call Centres

WSJ writes about the culture spawned by the call centres in Philippines – something we will probably see replicated in India.

There are 30,000 people answering phones and e-mail queries in Manila, doing work — for $600 to $800 a month — that generally pays better than bookkeeping in a bank or similar white-collar employment. That figure could double over the next couple of years, call-center operators predict, creating a middle class that actually stays in the Philippines rather than one that must emigrate to work overseas, as millions of Filipinos have done.

At 2 a.m. on a recent Saturday, Sherylyn de la Santos bit down on a microwaved cheesedog on the steps of a 7-Eleven store. Her friend Gabriella Manalo held her Coke. It would be a midafternoon break in Baltimore, but in Manila it was time to hit the booming all-night cornershops for some refreshment.

So far, there is no shortage of people who want to work on U.S. time — companies such as eTelecare and People Support get as many as 200 applications a day, thanks in part to an unemployment rate of nearly 13%. But those who get jobs often find it difficult adapting to “the bubble.”

Che Che Montero has been working in a call center for nearly a year. “Most of the time I feel isolated,” she says. “You can’t tell your old friends what kind of day you’ve had because they are either sleeping or at work.”

Staying awake is less of a problem, the 25-year-old physical-therapy graduate says. “I don’t get sleepy at the office. There’s a lot of irate callers to keep me awake at night.”

For others, there are things to do while everybody else is going to work.

I think India will seriously have to start thinking about a whole section of people which works at night and sleeps for the better part of the day.


Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.