UK call centres: crossroads of an industry

Jon Snow (IX Consulting Limited, London, UK)

Journal of Property Investment & Finance

ISSN: 1463-578X

Publication date: 1 December 2005



The application of technology has shaped the call centre organisation, enabled its remote location, and allowed its swift relocation. The purpose of this practice briefing is to expose the reader to the reality that call centres are temporary employers of both human resource and property, while at the same time they are collectively one of the biggest occupiers of office space in the UK. The briefing aims to illustrate the uncertainties relating to the mobility of call centre business units and the threat to future employment posed by emerging technologies.


This practice briefing draws upon a combination of third party research findings, other literature, and the author's experiences to illustrate the relationship between call centre employment and property requirements; the mobility of both jobs and property footprint due to the globalizing effects of high‐bandwidth communications and the development of enterprise software applications; and the potential for jobs erosion due to the “destructive” impact of new automated and self‐service customer interaction technologies.


The practice briefing acknowledges that DTI sponsored research delivers a very optimistic view of the future prospects for UK call centre employment. However, current experiences regarding offshoring and the adoption of non‐live agent means of customer interaction provide uncertainty regarding the timing and magnitude of call centre employment growth. Property investors seeking exposure to markets reliant on call centre occupiers should consider the prospect that call centre demand could disappear as quickly as it was created.


The footloose nature of today's call centres creates uncertainty for property investors that have, or are seeking, exposure to the UK call centre sector. This practice briefing delivers an accessible account of the operational risks that influence the stability of the UK call centre sector.



Snow, J. (2005), "UK call centres: crossroads of an industry", Journal of Property Investment & Finance, Vol. 23 No. 6, pp. 525-532.

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