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Working for a BPO ? Here are 5 challenges and occupational hazards to watch out for.
Want to work in a BPO or a call centre? No industry is without its occupational hazards and as women, we are keen to embrace all the jobs that we can possibly do. Here are 5 challenges you should aim to overcome when working for a call centre.
A fat pay package, home pick-up and drop-off, free meal coupons, recreation areas, glamourous parties and fun outings: these are some of the rewards of working in a call centre in India. People may think it is a cushy job that gives big money. But like every job has its ups and downs, working for a BPO or in a call centre has its pitfalls, drawbacks and downsides. Yet, hundreds of women work in call centres, facing hurdles and obstacles that are unique to this workplace. Here are some of the challenges faced particularly by women employees in call centres:
To be fair, these day’s employers in BPOs ensure safety of their employees with pick-up and drop at their doorstep. Women are not allowed to sit next to the driver and when they travel late hours, a security guard always escorts them. A male employee is always dropped off last; cabs have helpline stickers and GPS technology as added measures.
In spite of all this, there are days when a woman suddenly finds herself alone with just the male driver. The guard is not always present, just after certain hours. In winter, when darkness falls early or when the route to home is through a lonely, isolated stretch of road, there is need for one. It is often a rude shock to realise that other colleagues have not shown up or cancelled their pick up at the last minute. It also happens that because she is the only one who lives in a particular area of town, there is no one else with her; so she ends up being the lone employee in the vehicle.
Even when a guard is present, a driver singing lewd songs, giving fleeting looks, engaging in needless chatter, laughing and joking with the guard only adds to the anxiety level. When travel is in the dark, making frequent calls home and remaining in touch with a friend is reassuring.
Sometimes, one has to wait alone for long periods of time, in the cab, on empty roads to pick up another employee. The only people seen are lone joggers or a person talking their morning walk, a newspaper vendor sorting his newspapers, people travelling home after a party or perhaps just a stray dog!
Travel can be daunting at odd hours or in the dead of the night when there is no other soul around. One has to be constantly alert, fighting sleep, keeping one’s eyes open, to make sure one reaches home safely. Every day that one reaches home safely is another sigh of relief and another silent prayer of gratitude.
In a BPO one has to work for customers in different time zones, so the working hours force you to compromise on sleep. This upsets one’s biological rhythm beyond recovery, leading to migraines, insomnia, dark circles, looking dull and fatigued, being grumpy, premature ageing, hair loss, hormonal imbalances and lowered immunity. Continuously talking for long hours leaves the throat parched and the voice hoarse. In an air-conditioned work environment, one is vulnerable to frequent throat infections. Long hours at the computer screen can lead to vision problems and prolonged use of the headset can impair hearing.
Free coupons cafeteria does not mean you always get healthy and hygienic nutrition. Also, due to odd working hours most employees tend to eat junk food at abnormal hours – vada pav, samosas, chaat, salty or fried refined flour snacks, sugary snacks like cakes, biscuits and chocolates, oily or spicy meals, raw unwashed salad, fizzy drinks and endless cups of coffee to stay awake. They are known to end up with acidity, indigestion, constipation, piles, ulcers, stomach ailments, kidney stones, and high blood pressure.
Working for different time zones upsets one’s biological rhythm beyond recovery, leading to migraines, insomnia, dark circles, looking dull and fatigued, premature ageing, hair loss, hormonal imbalances and lowered immunity.
In a BPO, although everyone is trained, it is not always easy to follow foreign accents and to talk in an accent that can be easily understood by customers. Some parts of the calls are type-scripted and they have to be repeated for every customer. This monologue, repeated call after call, throughout the day, with a recovery time of only a few seconds between calls, is mentally exhausting, not to mention dealing with irate, demanding, hostile and sometimes downright rude customers breathing down your neck. Besides, the target oriented telemarketing can be stressful. What is most alarming is to see some young women smoke to counter stress. The ill effects of an unhealthy lifestyle are seen over a period of time, sometimes causing serious illnesses.
Due to the poor image of BPOs especially the safety aspects and the odd hours, a married woman may have trouble getting approval at home to work late hours. She may face disputes with the in-laws about domestic chores while she is away or trying to catch up with sleep during the day. It can also be extremely tough being sleep deprived, juggling the job and housework along with children and other responsibilities. Besides, spending quality time with the husband and children is reduced and is the biggest sacrifice.
Many women go home after a night shift, cook, get the children ready for school, do the housework and then catch up with their much-needed sleep!
The outsourcing of jobs to India has given an opportunity to thousands of mostly young Indians who may not be graduates, to become earning members. However, this has also forced many single women to stay away from their homes, without the support of their families.They struggle especially in times of distress and illness. They have to stay either in a working women’s hostel or share a rented accommodation, which is not easy to find, as a lot of them do not allow women to stay out late.
Working in a call centre/ BPO may not be a long-term option for many due to the many challenges, especially as a woman. At the end of the day, every job has its own pros and cons. Challenges should not stop you from earning a living and enjoying your work; you can try and find ways to overcome them.
How do you think this can be achieved? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
Image via Shutterstock.
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