PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A company with a big presence in the Delaware Valley is making a major change after the pandemic, announcing that a large group of its employees will remain virtual permanently.
The move directly impacts about 700 people in our region and it's a sign of more changes to come, changes that will have a ripple effect on our entire community.
When you call AAA, you might end up talking to Efrem Capers.
"I'm a roadside assistance counselor. Basically, we're the first line of defense. Whenever a member calls into AAA for service, we get get information. We make sure whatever their needs are addressed," he said.
Like so many people, Capers started working from home during the pandemic.
"It didn't take me long to get used to it. I'll be very honest, I also like it because it gives me flexibility," he said.
AAA said employee productivity either stayed the same or went up when they went virtual, so now Capers and 700 of his call center colleagues will stay remote for good.
"Our call center people will be 100% virtual. They are already there, and they will remain there. That's our long-term plan," said Christin Joyner, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for AAA Club Alliance. "But we're not downsizing that workforce in any way. We are actually adding to our virtual workforce."
"We have the opportunity to look at a broader swath of geography not being tethered to a location. And that's beneficial not only for AAA, but also for candidates," she said.
And AAA said it has no plans to close its brick and mortar call center locations which are in Hamilton, New Jersey, and Newark, Delaware.
"We have other associates who also work in those buildings across different business lines," she said.
As companies change the way they do things, property owners in the suburbs and the city said they are responding.
"It shows that we need to be flexible," said Brent Hutchinson of Nightingale Properties.
Nightingale Properties owns five million square feet of office space in Center City Philadelphia.
"We're back up to about 10% to 20%, in some cases is up to 40%," he said. "But for the most part we've been hearing and we've been speaking with our tenants, the majority of will have a soft opening through the summer, and then really come back into the office space after Labor Day."
AAA is also considering a permanent remote or hybrid situation for some of its other employees, including dispatch. The company said as well that it is sensitive to the fact that some employees do not want to work from home, saying it is trying to address those challenges as well.