As the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep people out of office buildings throughout the U.S., a majority of the employees of the Verizon Wireless call center in Wilmington will work from home permanently, a company official said this week.
“Thanks to overwhelming positive feedback from our employees, we’re excited to make work from home permanent for our Telesales and Wireless Customer Service functions, consisting of thousands of employees located across the country, including in Wilmington,” said Verizon spokesperson Kate Jay in an email.
The local call center, at 3601 Converse Road off Shipyard Boulevard in midtown Wilmington, had 730 employees as of last year, according to numbers Verizon officials provided to the Greater Wilmington Business Journal.
Jay said she didn’t have an exact count of the Wilmington Verizon employees affected by the change, “but all of our customer service employees in the area are working from home.”
The Wilmington call center closed for deep cleaning in March after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, according to news reports.
But some of the groundwork for the change began before the coronavirus pandemic reached the U.S. and Wilmington.
“Prior to COVID-19, we responded to changes in consumer behaviors by creating our Telesales organization and a home-based agent program for a portion of our Customer Service organization. As a result of the pandemic, we were able to shift 100% of both functions quickly to remote work,” Jay said. “The success of this innovative working arrangement, coupled with an overwhelming number of requests from employees to continue working from home allowed us to make this shift to permanent work from home for these functions.”
The switch doesn’t mean the call center building, owned by Chicago-based Milwauke MI Holding LLC, is going to be empty. The center was established in Wilmington in 2004 and was boosted by economic incentives, with North Carolina offering $7.2 million in grants to Verizon Wireless to come to the state, according to a previous Business Journal story.
“Regarding our call center facilities, there are no building closures planned at this time as a result of this announcement,” Jay said. “Many of these buildings house a number of Verizon groups who are not planning to work from home permanently at this time.”
Verizon isn’t the only national company that has made working from home a permanent fixture. Facebook and Twitter are among the companies that have made announcements about their workforces being given the option or transitioning to it over time.
More announcements of a permanent work-from-home arrangement could be forthcoming.
“Close to 80% of organizations surveyed said they have implemented or expanded universal work-from-home policies as a result of COVID-19, while 67% expect these policies to remain in place either permanently or for the long-term,” according to a survey released in June and conducted by 451 Research, the emerging technology research unit of S&P Global Market Intelligence.
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