For Henry Pavo Anora Jr. of SYKES Cebu, his employer is the perfect embodiment of the adage, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.” He is grateful to the company for making these difficult times easier for him and his colleagues, a sentiment shared by fellow employee Janice Revillas, who commends how SYKES went above and beyond expectations to help its employees cope.
“Thank you, SYKES, for helping me rise against all the blues during this pandemic, making things possible for me, helping me raise my little one, and giving me more hope to continue striving by giving me a job opportunity amidst this pandemic,” she said.
The ongoing pandemic has been challenging for employees, regardless of industry, but top BPO industry player SYKES Cebu makes it a point to make the situation as light to its people as possible. It has beaten all challenges to deploy its over 6,000-strong workforce to work at home until the current health crisis eases.
“Our plan was to stay 100% operational despite the pandemic, no matter the circumstances—whether our employees work at home or on-site with health regulations. However, as Cebu was put under more stringent lockdown guidelines than anywhere else in the Philippines due to the rapid rise of cases in the province, we opted to adopt the work-at-home arrangement completely for everyone’s safety. We are grateful for the strict compliance of all our employees that we were able to transition successfully and remain 100% operational while working remotely,” said John Sneed, SYKES Senior Vice President, Area Operations.
SYKES Cebu’s transition to a work-at-home (WAH) setup was a gradual process, taking the company three months to completely implement remote working to 100% of its workforce. To successfully enable all its employees to work from their homes, SYKES Cebu has provided them with the equipment they need, deploying thousands of PC sets, including accessories, office chair, and WiFi connection. Likewise, to help them quickly adapt to their new work environment and be able to deliver the same quality of service, SYKES has set up OneLeap, a one-stop shop online portal that offers master classes on remote work how-tos. Through the portal, employees have access to free courses on managing a WAH team, documents on systems and platforms for telecommuting, and documents needed when transitioning to the new work environment, among others.
“Work life balance is a must for us to be successful. This is one of the great opportunities for me as a mom and I’m blessed having this WFH set up, wherein I can still manage my time with my family while working,” said Cecil Quijoy Rafols of SYKES Cebu.
With a well-thought-out plan, SYKES Cebu has been able to run operations with minimal interruptions and deliver steady growth. In fact, the BPO industry leader gained new clients during this period, while managing to keep true to its commitments and maintaining constant communications with existing clients.
And even as it faced the challenges of COVID-19, SYKES Cebu still managed to offer employment to Cebuanos amid the pandemic, welcoming almost a thousand new employees so far this year.
“During this difficult period, our focus is mainly on our employees’ safety and the security of their employment. The success of the transition was a result of our thorough planning and preparation. It was a tough process where we needed collective effort, but it was mainly due to the managers who oversaw their own departments throughout the process. We also definitely couldn’t have done it without the IT and Facilities department, who were responsible for the deployment of equipment to each employee’s home,” said Sneed.
Prior to its 100% WAH arrangement, SYKES Cebu has established Camp SYKES, an employee assistance program that provides accommodation, meal and shuttle service provisions, hygiene kits, and other additional incentives and allowances. Necessary sanitary protocols and health regulations were also implemented on-site in compliance with national and international guidelines.
Such agile and innovative response to the challenges posed by COVID-19 earned SYKES a well-deserved recognition from the international business award body Stevie Awards for Great Employers. SYKES is the first call center to venture out of Manila to operate in Cebu in 2003, opening many opportunities for Cebuanos to work, learn, and grow.