The Challenges of Managing BPOs in a Work from Home Paradigm and Some Solutions


Why BPOs Faced an Entirely Different Set of Challenges Due to the Covid 19 Pandemic

BPOs or Business Processing Outsourcing firms work with overseas clients and do their outsourced business processes.

In recent years, with the emergence of BPOs as a key pillar of the modern digital economy, they have become ubiquitous in many Asian countries, especially India and the Philippines.

While their work is virtual, they have to ensure that their staffs works from physical offices and that too in different time zones so that the clients operations are operated in a seamless and smooth manner.

Indeed, the whole success of Business Process Outsourcing depends on 24/7 operations in faraway locations in a manner that does not upend the clients businesses.

Having said that, with the world turning to the Work from Home mode as a result of the Covid 19 Pandemic, BPOs have found themselves in the middle of several challenges to do with ensuring secure connectivity at the homes of their staff as well as to ensure that processes such as Call Centres do not get affected due to the disruption caused by the pandemic.

This means that they have to find solutions to these pressing challenges now.

The Challenge of Providing Safe and Secure Connectivity through Dedicated VPNs

To start with, BPOs often work with confidential client data that is processed over ultra secure networks that are dedicated and between the clients and the units.

These networks require regulatory approval as well as the buy in from the clients since any data loss or data theft means that valuable and precious client data is lost.

Indeed, BPOs are extra sensitive to these aspects as hackers and even malicious insider employees, for that matter, can steal financial and personal data of the customers which can have ramifications for all stakeholders.

For instance, in recent years, there have been multiple cases where Credit Card Numbers, Phone Numbers, and Banking and other Financial data of the customers have been stolen leading to compensation payouts in the Millions.

So, when employees Work from Home, there is the added dimension of ensuring safety and security of such data.

This is where the main challenge lies for BPOs and according to reports, they have either taken permissions from the clients and regulators for setting up secure VPNs or Virtual Private Networks at the homes of their staff or during the lockdown, they procured passes for their employees to continue working from their physical offices.

Why Call Centres Cannot be Operated from WFH and How to Overcome This Challenge

Another challenge that BPOs face in the WFH model is that Call Centres have to necessarily operate from physical offices due to the reasons mentioned in the last section as well as due to the fact that employees who work from home cannot be expected to provide the same level of concentration and time for continuous operations.

In addition, Call Centre staff has to be supervised since escalations have to be handled by the managers and this cannot be done when they work from home. Moreover, Call Centres operate round the clock and this means that Work from Home is not a viable option for synchronized operations.

Apart from this, Call Centres are also run on an Assembly Line Mass Operation mode and in a manner similar to Manufacturing firms, employees are expected to work not only round the clock but also in shift as well as are expected to be monitored and supervised.

While many Manufacturing firms suspended their operations due to the Pandemic, BPOs could at the maximum, afford to work with scaled back operations rather than stopping their work.

Therefore, this is perhaps one of the key challenges that BPOs are facing right now due to Covid.

How Conventional BCPs are Inadequate and Why Innovative Responses are needed

The third challenge for BPOs due to the Pandemic is that BCPs or Business Continuity Plans that were drawn up keeping in mind an entirely different set of challenges and disruptions to operations can no longer be activated.

Indeed, most BPO BCPs envisaged continuing operations in alternative locations and by relocating to other countries.

However, when almost the entire world was locked down, there is no way in which such BCPs were effective.

This is the reason why many Management Experts are now arguing for an entirely new approach to BCP wherein Exigencies such as Pandemics can be factored.

Another key challenge for both BPOs and the Planners is that the Risk Of Infection when they operate (even with skeletal staff) in Physical Offices means that they have to Quarantine them as well as Sanitize and Lock Down their offices for some days or even weeks.

This is a Double Whammy as they not only lose their BCP mode of operations but are also forced to discontinue their operations. Indeed, among all the sectors of the Services Economy, BPOs were the worst hit due to these challenges and we read horror stories of how they coped and managed with them.

Operating in the New Normal

Last, the fallout of the Pandemic would continue to reverberate through the Business World and the BPOs have to find solutions to such challenges.

A possible solution for them would be to go totally Virtual and Dispersed so that employees operate in Discrete and Agile Modes where Self Sustaining Teams are the norm rather than the exception.

Moreover, they can also provide Bio Bubbles for their Staff which is what the Indian Cricket Team did when they toured Australia.

Indeed, BPOs have to come up with innovative and creative solutions and their continued success depends on how they forge ahead.


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The article is Written By “Prachi Juneja” and Reviewed By Management Study Guide Content Team. MSG Content Team comprises experienced Faculty Member, Professionals and Subject Matter Experts. We are a ISO 2001:2015 Certified Education Provider. To Know more, click on About Us. The use of this material is free for learning and education purpose. Please reference authorship of content used, including link(s) to ManagementStudyGuide.com and the content page url.