Call Centre Town

8.25am and the city’s traffic is providing a rumbling soundtrack to the start of the working day. Outside a dull grey 1970s office block two young men smoke. One, in a smart shirt and trousers, brings his right leg around in an arc, scuffing his shoe on the smooth paving slab. Perhaps he is demonstrating the goal he scored at the weekend. Just around the corner three middle aged women stand chatting in a cluster. A girl with a fringe-cut and a stylish black dress purposefully cuts a course between both the boys and the women to pass into the high-ceilinged lobby with its marble floor.

Just down the road a man wearing a leather satchel negotiates a busy roundabout, before disappearing into a four-storey yellow brick office building which had once been the site of a magnificent (but scary looking) Victorian gothic church whose grade II listed status failed to offer much in the way of protection.

A little further on a car’s front wheel sinks into a pot-hole on the dilapidated road which serves a mini industrial estate. Its door opens and a passenger is disgorged. The cars former passenger takes a few steps and enters a small lobby. Tapping in a four-digit-code they gain access to what looks like a warehouse, but which contains, suspended on a mezzanine floor, above an office space.

In five minutes all these different people will be sat at their desks. They will have different surroundings, use different software systems, and may abide by different dress codes, but whatever their differences they will all be spending the next five, six, seven, eight hours, or even longer tethered to their positions by a headset and wire which plugs them into a vast communications infrastructure spanning the entire planet. This is Call Centre town.