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BPO firm to continue WFH until September this year

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By Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

Business process outsourcing company Synchrony Global Services Philippines, which employs 3,000 in its Manila and Cebu offices, said its workers continue working from home (WFH), and would do so until at least September 7, 2020.

CEO Michael Zolin said the work from home arrangement until at least September this year has to be done to ensure safety of its workforce. Its technology-driven business model also enables the company to continue operating despite the lockdowns in both cities.

Synchrony Philippines is a subsidiary of premier consumer financial services company Synchrony, the largest issuer of private label credit cards in the United States with over 50 million card members.

Zolin said that when the community quarantines were enforced, Synchrony’s senior management team wasted no time securing hotel rooms for its employees within walking distance from their sites, so that people could come to work. Financial stipends, transportation and daily meals were offered for employees.

In order to be business as usual, 1,000 work-at-home kits were deployed in Manila, while 500 were deployed in Cebu. These included computers, headsets, monitors, cables, and prepaid Internet router.

“Synchrony’s workplace has radically changed,” he said

“We have enforced a strict lockdown of our sites. Employees are not allowed to enter the premises unless given approved lockdown access. Employees are asked to report local travels to the HR team. We also have set up a COVID hotline so employees can report symptoms for monitoring and assistance,” Zolin added.

Synchrony has also accepted the fact that, until an effective vaccine is developed and made universally accessible, it would have to deal with CoViD-19 on its own corporate strengths—via technology and its well-coordinated tech-savvy people.

“We launched Synchrony 360 early this month and we use this to help support our total well-being. It has many resources to help our employees navigate everyday life, whether through parenting, homeschooling, physical activity, virtual teams or building relationships.

The Synchrony Foundation has donated $1.5 million to provide financial assistance and relief to Synchrony team members in need through its new Synchrony Employee Assistance Fund. This program is designed to help employees address hardships experienced from Coronavirus and other personal matters.

As for returning back to their offices, Zolin said the global business group is still working out the specifics.

“We have in process a Return to Office steering committee to facilitate better the eventual return of our employees to our sites. This is a global initiative being piloted in two of our US sites to finalize our social distancing and in-office protocols. We’re reconfiguring our physical workspace to spread out teams who must be in the office, going beyond social distancing guidance. We increased cleaning of our sites, deployed additional hand sanitizers throughout our spaces (including shuttle services), promoted proper handwashing techniques, and employed temperature scanning. We continue to be in compliance with local and government regulations for community categories and advisories of Department of Labor and Employment in returning to the office,” he concluded.

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