The Impact of COVID-19 on the BPO Industry
The COVID19 crisis has adversely impacted almost all sectors globally, with disrupted supply chains, country-wide lockdowns and organizations exploring the possibility of long-term and even permanent remote working. The Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector features contact center agents working from different locations and answering millions of calls every day. With the outbreak of COVID-19, China became the first country to ask these employees to work remotely, while others followed suit to contain the spread of the virus. The sustainability of these employees depends on multiple parameters, such as the ability to adapt to new working arrangements and the willingness to work across functions.
Challenges Faced by BPO Organizations
Some key concerns faced by BPO organizations are data security and the impact on productivity due to either inadequate infrastructure at employees’ homes or the lack of supervision. Some other issues include difficulties in recording calls when working remotely and the exposure of personal employee data to clients. Organizations are taking several measures to ensure that the productivity of contact center agents is not adversely affected by working remotely. Some of these measures include regular touchpoints with employees and periodic updates as well as daily team meetings to review the status of work being executed using tools such as WebEx, Zoom and Skype.
Some of the Measures Being Adopted
A key transition being witnessed in BPO organizations is the shift from single-function operations to multi-functional operations to reduce the risk impact at any single location. This means that companies are no longer focusing on having only certain locations that specialize in one operation or service function. In addition, many companies are looking to move their operations to low-cost locations to bring down the exposure to risk. Cloud-based work platforms are also being considered by companies. A shift to a standard cloud-based work platform can reduce manual work and lead to work automation, thereby improving the efficiency and effectiveness of employees.
With COVID-19 spreading rapidly across the globe, BPO companies and third-party service providers are grappling to cope up with changing work conditions. With remote working being an alternative that has not been tested or implemented much by BPOs in the past, it remains to be seen how the future of the industry shapes up in the coming years.