‘It Sucks the Life Out of You’: Struggles of Working at a Call Center in Egypt
Photo through Twitter
“My mother once told me that I was sleep-talking, as if I was answering phone calls during my sleep. That’s how much it messes with your mind,” says 29-year-old Mohamed Sayed, on his work at a call center in Egypt.
At the tip of final 12 months, Cairo woke as much as the extraordinarily devastating information of a call centre worker who died by suicide, reportedly because of office stress. Multiple teams on social media started sharing the information whereas commenting on the cruel office circumstances that call center brokers undergo, and the day by day stress related to their jobs, whether or not with purchasers or with their managers.
Despite being a extremely worrying job, tens of millions of Egyptians work at call facilities, whether or not for a brief interval, or as a everlasting supply of revenue.
Photo through 925
“When I first started working at a call center, my first call was with a sexual harasser,” says 30-year-old Marina R. who has been working at call facilities for over seven years.
“I was not allowed to hang up, I could only put him on hold, and pass the call to the assisting team. But I remember thinking, ‘What if the person answering from the assist team is also a woman?’”
Regardless of how triggering it could be for her to reply additional calls from the identical harasser, Marina explains that she is pressured to behave regular and easily “deal with it”.
Stress, stress, and extra stress. This is how Sayed describes his six years working at call facilities. “If I’m one minute late to work, it’s deducted from my salary. If I’m one minute late from my break time, that’s also deducted from my salary,” he recollects.
According to Sayed, a job as a call center agent does train one to be affected person and, generally, stay calm. However, it could additionally engender emotions of helplessness and frustration.
“Call centers are definitely a learning experience, but if your mental health is not okay, a job at a call center can destroy you,” Sayed firmly provides.
At any job, having a transparent head and leaving one’s private life at residence is vital, and call facilities are not any completely different. Sayed highlights that having only one downside on his thoughts might make it unimaginable to pay attention and never lose his mood amid all of the stress.
Additionally, Sayed touches upon the topic of the incident of the Egyptian worker who took his personal life. “People who sympathized the most with the recent news of the man who died by suicide were all people who work or experienced working at a call center.”
On a unique word, Marina attributes the excessive turnover at call facilities to excessive stress and low salaries. Sayed, who labored at a number of call facilities from 2014 to 2020, echoes Marina’s idea.
“Call centers like to hire undergraduate students because they offer them very low salaries, and they know that students will accept that,” says Sayed.
Likewise, Marina remembers how she was paid EGP 800 (USD 50.93) a month when she first began working after graduating in 2011.
In Egypt, the common month-to-month wage for a call center consultant working in Arabic is EGP 3,500 (USD 222.80). In the case of these working in English, the wage can attain EGP 6,500 (USD 413.77) and extra. Some advantages at call center jobs embody transportation and meal allowance, telephone traces with free minutes and cellular knowledge, along with medical insurance coverage.
Sayed labored at call facilities for 2 telecommunications corporations and one ride-hailing service. He confirms that the promotions system is identical in all three.
“You only have a chance of being promoted if you’re part of ‘el shella’ (the gang), even if another team member is more deserving. And, it’s not just that, if I want to promote Mahmoud, Mohamed has to leave,” he says, referring to 2 hypothetical staff changing one another. “For me to go up the ladder, the person above me has to leave. Even then, I will not get promoted if I’m not on good terms with my boss,” he explains. “Can you imagine not being promoted from your position for seven years?”
Photo through Masrawy
Additionally, Marina and Sayed each complain concerning the inconsistency of the workflow. From rotational shifts and weekends that recurrently change, to targets and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which are additionally ever-changing, the job is commonly fairly grueling.
“You don’t have time for your own life and your days are always upside down because of the rotational shifts that you’re continually trying to adapt to. One day you’re working in the morning and the other day, you’re working at night. You have no social life whatsoever,” says Mohamed Mostafa, a 25-year-old Egyptian banker who labored at a financial institution’s call center for a 12 months.
Mostafa says that the time he spent on the call center was worrying and that he by no means deliberate on persevering with that job, vowing to by no means return. He remembers how a shopper had given his financial institution card quantity to somebody considering it was the financial institution, and, in consequence, cash was stolen from him.
“The caller fought with me, and when I tried to handle the situation, explain that it’s a scam and that it wasn’t the bank that called him, he fought with me and was convinced that I have to return the money back to him,” he recounts.
While Sayed thinks that the overwhelming majority of the stress the brokers obtain is from contained in the call center itself, and solely a small fraction of it’s from the telephone calls, Marina thinks in any other case.
“Call centers normalize the idea of an agent being insulted,” she explains.
Marina describes how call center managements deal with brokers “as if they’re slaves because the client’s money is more important than your presence in the company”.
Photo through Flickr
“Call centers suck the life out of you, and if you reach the age of 30, you’re stuck for the rest of your life,” says Marina. Sayed reiterates Marina’s viewpoint, evaluating call facilities to sand as they sweep you in, and emphasizing that no person who leaves this discipline returns to it.
Despite being an business recognized for top turnover charges, unfair employees insurance policies, excessive ranges of employees burnout, worrying work environments, and low salaries, many proceed to work at call facilities. This is principally because of lack of higher alternatives, not wanting to start out over some place else, and having commitments and tasks that paralyse staff from leaving a job they’re fighting.
“It feels like you’re in a toxic relationship; you want to leave, but you don’t know what awaits you outside this place,” concludes Marina.
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