“This story comes from a virtual assistant in the Philippines who used to work in a call center, and now works from home as a VA. When you hire Filipino virtual assistants, it’s amazing how both of your lives change.”

Hi! My name is B and I used to work for a call center. The call center industry is thriving here in the Philippines and there are plenty of jobs available. But what most people don’t tell you is that it can be a very stressful and demanding job. They don’t tell you that there are  times when you’ll have to work more than 8 hours a day (on average I work 10 hours, 6 days a week), you’re always tired because of the changing shift schedules, and you’re constantly on your toes because you can easily be fired over the slightest infraction.

This didn’t really bother me much before when I was still single and back when it was still just me and my wife. But when my wife got pregnant, the work started to take its toll. She had a difficult pregnancy, so it was stressful for me to be away from her, especially at night when I knew she could go into labor anytime. And after she gave birth, I was basically a zombie because I couldn’t get enough sleep. It got better as our baby got bigger but I wasn’t enjoying fatherhood as much as I wanted because I was always asleep whenever I’m home. I could only spend time with my daughter on the weekends. It bothered me but I accepted it because I thought that was my only option.

Then a few months ago, I lost my job when the call center I was working for lost our account. I immediately went to job hunting mode but I knew it would be a while before I got any calls (there weren’t a lot of openings in my position). Then my wife, who is a VA, suggested that I try working from home as a call center agent. It would be something that would keep me busy while waiting for job responses and to make up for the income lost in my previous job.

I tried it out, put on a profile at onlinejobs.ph and in less than 2 weeks I got a job as a home-based CSR.

To be quite honest, when I first started I thought I wouldn’t like it. But now I love my job. In fact, I like my job so much I’m reluctant to go back to a regular call center job. And here are the reasons why:

1. I have a really good employer. He doesn’t pay me as much as my old job but he pays me well for the work I’m doing. And when I did the math it turns out I’m taking home just a little less than what I used to take home after taxes now that I have fewer work-related expenses to deal with. So when you think about it moneywise, it’s not a bad deal.

2. It is not as physically taxing as a regular call center job. In a regular call center, my work schedule changed every week or so and because of that I got sick a lot. I still work the graveyard shift but the work schedule never changes, so my body was able to adapt better. And the best part is that my employer never asks me to work more than 8 hours a day or more than 5 days a week (unless I want to) so I’m able to really relax during the weekend.

3. It is much more comfortable working from home. I literally work from my couch! I can work lying down if I wanted. I can wear anything I want. I can eat in front of my computer and go to the restroom anytime I wanted (which is impossible to do in a call center).

4. I can take time off when needed without any problems. A few days ago my daughter got sick and she’s a daddy’ girl. She wouldn’t allow my wife to take care of her so I was the one who had to feed her, bathe her and keep her company until she fell asleep, which meant I didn’t get as much sleep as needed. Back in my old job, I wasn’t allowed to take any days off, even when I was sick. And when I was allowed to file a leave I had a lot of paperwork to deal with. With my current employer, all I needed to do was email him as soon as I could that I had to take a sick leave because I wasn’t able to able to sleep taking care of my daughter. And that was it, all I need to do is to email and I had my valid (paid) leave.

5. I have more time with my family now. I’m healthier now because I sleep more and have less stress.  I’m now able to spend more time with my family. I’m the one who gets my daughter ready for school. I take my daughter to school and pick her up after classes and we bond during our commutes. I do all that and still have time to get 7 hours of sleep before my shift starts. I’m now able to make plans to go on trips on the weekends like go to the beach or fly kites in the park, something we rarely got to do when I was still in the call center. I’m active in my church again because I don’t have to work on Sundays anymore.

It’s not all perfect. I miss socializing with co-workers. I have nice virtual co-workers but it’s really not the same as having someone to talk to at work. And it feels uncomfortable that some of my former co-workers pity me because they think I don’t have a real job and I don’t have the title.

But I also see how they envy me because I’ve lost weight. I have more pictures with my daughter now on my social media. I know they envy the fact that I now have time with my daughter to build playhouses made of cardboard boxes, harvest our mango tree, build Lego cars, or just walk around our subdivision and talk about nonsense.

I’m not saying I would never go back to a regular call center job. But it has to be a really good job to take me away from all of this. I’m earning well, I have my health, and I have my family. Really, what else can a man ask for?

To get started, you’ll need to learn to hire workers from the Philippines so you’ll know what to look for before you browse the database of Filipino virtual assistants and start hiring.

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