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COVID-19 – Virgin Media Onshoring Brings 500 Jobs Back to UK

Wednesday, March 25th, 2020 (8:23 am) - Score 4,923

Broadband ISP Virgin Media has confirmed that they will attempt to rapidly bring 500 customer support (call-centre) jobs back to the UK in order to help counter Coronavirus (COVID-19) related lock-downs in countries where they’ve previously outsourced such roles, including India and the Philippines.

Quite how effective this hiring spree will be in the current climate, where even UK support centres are already suffering from staff shortages due to similar problems and high demand, is uncertain. Nevertheless Virgin Media has suggested that it will aim to hire new workers via remote job interviews (video conferencing), but after that they will still be expected to enter existing call centres in Teesside, Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham.

Like many companies Virgin Media has already taken various measures to reduce the threat of COVID-19 in the workplace, such as better cleaning, splitting floors and spacing out desks to support social distancing.

Abby Thomas, VM’s Customer Director, said:

“The company has introduced a number of measures to ensure its people remain as safe as possible while continuing to help answer customer calls and queries. This includes providing remote working capabilities, where possible, and ensuring strict social distancing and hygiene measures are in place for sites that need to remain open.”

The aforementioned problem is of course by no means unique to Virgin Media and other telecoms firms are having to tackle similar challenges, with the possible exception of BT (EE) that has already completed a major on-shoring project (note: this doesn’t apply to Openreach, which still outsources and has also had problems with centres in India).

Separately Virgin Media’s CTO, Jeanie York, has also issued an update on their broadband network capacity.

COVID 19 – Keeping you connected

Today, we are facing a new challenge: the global COVID 19 pandemic. Almost overnight, millions of our customers are working from home, accessing and sharing files on corporate networks, joining video conferences or accessing online entertainment during periods of self-isolation. This has caused a data use on our network to increase on a daily basis.

New trends in data use are emerging

Traffic across our network is starting to build earlier than usual – starting at about 8am – and remaining higher than usual for both downstream and upstream traffic during the day.

Downstream traffic has increased around 50% during daytime hours but demand is still significantly below levels we experience in the evening peak. Our network is built to withstand this daily evening peak, and right now is comfortably accommodating this daytime increase. That’s why we’re continuing to be able to provide the vast majority of our customers with speeds faster than their headline package speed i.e. more than 200Mbps on our M200 product.

Upstream traffic – including traffic sent by our customers on video calls – has increased by up to 95% during daytime hours. This has largely been caused by more and more people working from home and sending files and data back to corporate networks. This traffic is increasing throughout the day and continuing into the evening, with peak upstream traffic up around 25% on the previous week, showing people are working later or joining conference calls with friends and family. Our network has ample capacity to handle this increased demand.

Despite the unique circumstances, we see some familiar patterns. Upstream traffic is dipping slightly at lunchtime as remote workers stop for lunch and again at 5.30PM when people log off for the day. We’re also seeing evidence of people staying at home and social distancing with network demand up at the weekend. Upload data spiked on Mothering Sunday as many families held video calls with loved ones.

Another change we’ve seen over the past week is in the number and length of landline calls. Last week, our landline network saw large growth in demand with voice call minutes up 80% week on week during the morning busy hour, peaking at 10am with around 2.5 million calls per hour.

In recent days we’ve seen our customers spend nearly twice as much time on their landline phones in the early evening as they did a week ago, with phone call minutes up by as much as 94%. Meanwhile mobile data use has declined slightly as people spend more time at home.

Despite all this the operator said, much like every other ISP, that “we’re not at capacity and are continuing to provide our customers with the ultrafast and reliable services they expect.” As it stands Virgin said the coronavirus pandemic has “still not pushed up demand” to the levels seen during recent computer game releases or when multiple premier league games were streamed simultaneously.

Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. Avatar Roger_Gooner

    VM has learnt, like BT, that offshoring doesn’t always work as it’s hard to achieve and maintain service levels that customers should have. And bringing these jobs back to this country will be most welcome to those desperate for work in these troubled times.

    • Avatar D

      Unfortunately they’ll be lost once the Pandemic is over & their offshore sites are lifted from lockdown

  2. Avatar Dave

    After personally speaking to one of virgins offshore call centres it’s a pity it has taken this to bring them back to UK. These offshore one if you ask them something they don’t have a script for they are stuck. simple question was is the hub dual band 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. Answer after conferring with a colleague it’s hub 3.0 GHz this simple question was not included in their scripted answers.

    • Avatar Ian

      I had a similar problems just over a week ago. They ended up loosing my wireless WiFi.
      After 3 hours in a Indian call center. I gave up and contacted a techi friend who sorted the problem out in 5 minutes.
      They keep bombarding me with follow up emails how did we do.
      When ever I give feed back I no one ever follows it up.
      They should bring all call centres back to the UK they understand our culture and can think for themselves and resolve problems quicker

  3. Avatar Dave

    Lol at least will stop Indian scam call Centre’s

    • Avatar D

      Doesn’t stop their emails, there’s been a few at Virgin receiving ones strictly related to Covid-19

  4. Avatar Jazzy

    Should have been British in the first place

    I won’t deal with companies that have overseas call centres where English isn’t their native language

  5. Avatar Eran

    India need to pull up socks

  6. Avatar Scared Worker

    Unfortunately a lot of this information is incorrect.
    I work in the contact center in Sheffield where we are being put at risk constantly from COVID-19.
    Everyone is coughing, sitting too close together. We’re having to provide our own cleaning equipment and have been stopped from wearing face masks.
    The centre needs to close, we’re still expected to sell products to people who might end up financially worse off and we might end up dying for it.

  7. Avatar Aaron

    I really don’t understand the need to keep these open in covid-19 risks.

    We are often placed shoulder to.shoulder – the workloads are so rammed thst your penalised if you go to the bathroom too often and many employers request you arrive on time despite transport making you late and struggling to get in tonwork.

    We are not key workers – we are helpdesk workers. The only reasons we are often required to stay open is because our American or Korean headoffices state we can’t close……We are breaking government regulations regularly at even my work place.

    This is a joke.

    They will pull all of them under their feet the moment it’s convenient to offshore at a third of the price and I can gurantee you the training programme will be 2 weeks of scripts then BOOM! – ON THE PHONE YOU GO.

    The British public need to ask themselves – would you work minimum wage for this??

  8. Avatar maria stevens

    connect call centre Seychelles is ready to help and support companies that still run their business but with the aid of an outsource call centre. With our effective and reliable team. National language of English French and creole, great geographical location, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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