Are you blind or have low vision, and are you interested in remote work? What about working for a customer service call center? Working from home is an excellent option for people with low vision or blindness. Commuting to work is easy. Plus, the flexibility to be in your home environment is nice. But what if the job is working in a call center? Here are some questions to ask yourself before pursuing this career.
1. Can you work full-time?
This question might be a no-brainer since most jobs require a 40-hour schedule. Call centers are no different in this regard. They might have pre-scheduled breaks and lunches. They might offer shift work or a rigid work schedule. All of this is to ensure coverage for phone calls. Have you worked this schedule in the past? How is your energy and stamina?
It is easy to take for granted that since you are working remotely, working full-time will be no problem. But consider the mental energy constantly talking to customers — especially when some aren’t nice to you. The many hours of sitting in a chair at a computer can take a toll on your body.
Set yourself up for success. Prepare your lunch and snacks in advance to enjoy precious break time. Stay physically active. Walk around the house during your breaks or after work. Do some stretching at your desk to avoid stiffness and soreness.
2. Can you multitask quickly and proficiently?
Working at a customer service call center usually requires strong multitasking skills. You may have to have several windows and apps open on your computer. Can you move through them seamlessly without getting confused or disoriented? How about while also talking on the phone?
When I worked remotely in a call center, I had multiple databases open, including the call center screen, Microsoft Teams, Word, and Outlook. I needed to have all those screens open while working. I toggled swiftly, depending on what I was trying to accomplish.
3. Are you prepared to feel occasional loneliness and isolation?
Feelings of loneliness and isolation can affect people working remotely. You are sitting in your home with limited access to management and colleagues. A considerable part of work is having a close relationship with your supervisor, co-workers, and customers. We are human beings and created for personal interaction and engagement.
Working from home doesn’t ultimately allow for that kind of contact. Yes, we can talk on the phone, send an email, or converse on a Zoom call, but it is not the same. When you work from home, there’s, unfortunately, no chatting at the water cooler about weekend plans. No lunch with co-workers, laughing and joking at the annual office party, complimenting a colleague’s new outfit or hairstyle. These opportunities for connection don’t usually exist outside the physical office.
4. Have you researched remote call center work?
Not all call centers or remote jobs are created equal. Some might require overtime. Some might require working on holidays or the weekend. Others might require a quota of calls answered within a specific timeframe. Management might require more documentation of each call to ensure quality assurance protocols.
Regardless, do your homework. Do a simple internet search on the pros and cons of working remotely in call centers. Look at helpful posts that break down what it is like–posts that address whether this kind of work is best suited for you. Check out the company online. Gather thoughtful interview questions to ask. If possible, talk to other low-vision or blind people who work in call centers. I had a couple of conversations with blind friends who had experience in this area. Their words were helpful as they honestly described a typical workday.
5. Are you proficient in using computers and assistive technology?
Remote customer service jobs require the use of a computer and access to the internet. Usually, customer service representatives use a dedicated portal to retrieve information and receive inbound calls. People who are blind or low vision typically use assistive technology like magnification or screen readers. Proficiency with this technology is a must. Most employers are not familiar with how this technology works. You may need to advocate and share how your technology interacts with their software.
My knowledge of working on a computer with a screen reader enhanced my experience because I didn’t have immediate access to help. Sometimes, I had to figure out the issue on my own. When tech support was available, they had remote access to the computer. I needed to communicate the problem to troubleshoot the solution effectively.
This list of questions is not exhaustive, but they offer some considerations to ponder. I’m sure more questions will arise. I encourage you to learn as much as possible to have a successful experience working remotely in a call center.
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