Focus Lecture 1

Call centres & the workers within: ‘thinking smart & sounding smart
on every single call’

Gail Forey
Hong Kong Polytechnic University


Research in the area of offshore outsourcing and working in a business processing organization, including research that focuses on call centres has tended to discuss information systems, management, human resources, economic issues and a discussion of those involved in the work and their views about this new emerging workforce are limited.

In this paper we present results from an extensive eight page questionnaire distributed to customer service telephone agents in three different organisations in the Philippines, in May 2013. In total 331 surveys were collected and capture the experience and perceptions of those who make and take customer service calls. Specifically data was collected in relation to: the attributes of the agents who take calls; labour utilization; labour intensity; autonomy on the job; their well-being and health; views towards job satisfaction; commitment at work and to the organisation; whether they had a voice and representation; in addition to issued related to language and communication skills. The findings provide a comprehensive insight into the nature of the work in Philippine call centres, and help us understanding the realities of call centre employment. Such knowledge can enhance the effectiveness of organisations and ensure that the employee experiences can be optimized. Moreover, analysis of the data further helps to situate the Philippines within the context of international debate and discussion related to the linguistic globalization of English in the workplace.

This study has been conducted with:
Philip Taylor & Helen Macdonald (University of Strathclyde)



Dr Gail Forey is an Associate Professor, Associate Director of the Research Centre for Professional Communication in English, and the Programme Leader for the Doctorate in Applied Language Sciences at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. She has carried out research and published in the areas of written and spoken workplace discourse, Systemic Functional Linguistics, discourse analysis, language education and teaching development. Within the field of language and the workplace, Gail has co-edited a book Globalization, Communication and the Workplace and published extensively topics related to the offshore outsourcing industry.



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