Southwest Airlines must permanently close its physical call centers and send customer service and reservations agents to work from home forever. The airline has confirmed that it will permanently close seven call centers in the United States on September 1 and instead rely on remote reservations staff.
The Dallas-based airline sent call center workers to work from home at the start of the pandemic and, like many companies, noticed that productivity increased dramatically when employees worked from home rather than in the office.
Southwest employs approximately 3,200 call center employees and has physical offices in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City and Phoenix. The office space will be donated to other departments in the South West and may be reallocated to other uses.
In addition to saving money on maintaining a physical call center, Southwest believes moving to 100% remote working will help attract employees and increase the pool of available candidates.
Southwest is desperately trying to cope with a huge surge in air travel demand that shows no immediate signs of slowing despite inflationary pressures and rising gasoline prices having a ripple effect on airfares.
“The move to a fully remote workforce brings increased flexibility, both to attract and hire new employees from across the country, and to schedule current employees who have worked with record efficiency in a working remotely,” the airline said in a statement confirming the move. .
According to CNBC, jetBlue’s reservations staff have worked remotely throughout the airline’s 22-year history. Delta Air Lines, however, has no plans to close its physical call centers.
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