Virtual Contact Center Jobs Provide Opportunities for Workers with Disabilities


More than a year after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, the impact has greatly affected how all of us work and live. Due to the need for social distancing, many businesses closed—some for good. Other companies turned to remote-work models. This has affected some groups of workers more than others.

A Look at the Data

In 2020, 17.9% of persons with a disability were employed, down from 19.3% in 2019, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For persons without a disability, 61.8% were employed in 2020, down from 66.3% in the prior year. Data on both groups for 2020 reflect the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to contain it.

Data on persons with a disability are collected as part of the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly sample survey of about 60,000 households that provides statistics on employment and unemployment in the United States. Collection of data on persons with a disability is sponsored by the Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy.

Highlights from the 2020 data include:

  • Across all age groups, persons with disabilities were much less likely to be employed than those with no disabilities.
  • Across all educational attainment groups, unemployment rates for persons with a disability were higher than those for persons without a disability.
  • In 2020, 29% of workers with a disability were employed part time, compared with 16% for those with no disability.
  • Employed persons with a disability were more likely to be self-employed than those with no disability.

Workers with Disabilities Thrive in Remote Positions

Workers with disabilities have found employment opportunities in the virtual contact center industry. These workers thrive in remote-work situations with flexible hourly commitments and schedules. They don’t need to seek transportation to an office, they don’t have to worry about so many physical demands, they can work at a time of day when they are more able, they can take more frequent breaks, and they are more likely to appreciate their jobs.

Workers with disabilities have found employment opportunities in the virtual contact center industry. These workers thrive in remote-work situations with flexible hourly commitments and schedules.

Companies with a remote-work business model and the flexibility that comes with independent workers often can offer an ideal work situation for persons with disabilities. The following are a few examples of workers with disabilities who have found significant success within our organization.

Michael, one of our agents, had all the hardware and tools necessary to act independently and serve his client, an insurance brokerage company, but he needed a computer program to magnify the text on his screen. Even though he is legally blind, using ZoomText, he can perform his job well.

Terri has Lupus and other autoimmune disorders, including fibromyalgia and a thyroid condition, which causes her to suffer often from fatigue. She collects Social Security disability, which requires her to work only a limited number of hours. The company and her client, a senior housing specialist, allow her to work on a flexible schedule to accommodate this.

Valerie, a Gulf War veteran with disabilities, has a young daughter who was diagnosed with epilepsy a few years ago. The combination of working from home and having a flexible schedule that allows her to work around healthcare appointments and special needs enables Valerie to support her family.

Nancy has developed foot drop, a nerve injury that keeps her from being able to flex her foot upward and makes walking difficult. Working for a virtual contact center as an independent contractor allows her to serve multiple clients effectively.

Remote Work Is a Life-Changing Opportunity

Finding work can be a daunting task for persons with disabilities, but opportunities within virtual contact centers have emerged with remote work and the flexible schedules associated with virtual customer service.

Kim Houlne is President and Chief Executive of Working Solutions. Kim turned an idea into an industry, pioneering virtual contact center outsourcing across the country. Her home-based agent model was founded in 1996. Prior to this, she held senior management positions in consulting.