Amazon urges some call center staff to work from home, plans closures


Amazon is encouraging customer service employees at some US call centers to work from home, signaling the company’s preference for remote work in certain roles that would help save money on real estate, people say close to the file.

The change is part of a plan to close several call centers across the country, including one opened in 2005 in Kennewick, Washington, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because she is not wasn’t allowed to talk about the plans. .

An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on the planned closures, but confirmed the shift to remote working.

“We are offering additional members of our customer service team the increased flexibility that comes with virtual work,” Amazon spokesman Brad Glasser said in an email. “We are working with employees to ensure their transition is smooth while continuing to prioritize best-in-class customer support.”

The pandemic has forced companies to embrace remote working for customer service roles and many employees are resisting efforts to return to offices. Before the pandemic, up to 90% of the approximately 3 million customer service representatives in the United States visited call centers. After the pandemic, about half of them are expected to work from home and the other half to go to the office, according to Jeff Christofis, who oversees the contact center unit at recruiting giant Kelly Services.

Offering remote work will help Amazon recruit employees in a high-turnover industry. In addition to providing flexibility for workers, Amazon will not be locked into specific cities from which to fill positions. It can also save on real estate if it moves enough staff to work from home and closes existing facilities.

Amazon started letting customer service reps work from home before the pandemic. Its cloud computing division sells Amazon Connect software that helps businesses build remote customer service networks. Amazon has call centers in the United States, including Kennewick and Phoenix, which each employ hundreds of workers. Yet call center employees make up only a small fraction of the company’s more than 1.5 million workers.


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