A while back I worked in a call centre.
It was a big call centre, thousands of people worked there, talking to customers.
But not any more…
- First we mitigated the work, we removed all the rework and mistakes and backlogs, we got rid of all the things that went wrong
- Second we automated the work, we used computers to do all the repetitive, tedious tasks. Computerised voices telling customers their bank balances and web-sites capturing orders
- Then we simplified the work that was left. We streamlined it, we used rules for decisions, we set up work-flows, we made it easy to get right and difficult to get wrong
- Finally, once the work was in a state where we could measure it and monitor it, we outsourced it to people who were very happy to do our dull repetitive work at a fraction of the cost.
By the end of it, all the work had gone. There wasn’t even a job for me. I boxed up my stuff and left.
The right thing to do?
We can argue if this was the right thing to do or not, we can argue about what it did for the customer experience or job security, or profitability but that isn’t the point. Argue all you like, that type of work will keep on disappearing.
The office is still there, but it isn’t a call centre, it doesn’t have thousands of people working in it any more.
The bad news
If you have a dull repetitive tedious job, you probably won’t hold on to it for much longer, some accountant is working out how to get rid of you. At best he will fix the work, at worst he will hide it off shore. Either way he will claim you as a cost saving.
The good news
Work is changing, if you play your cards right, maybe you will get a better job instead.
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