Ingo Babrikowski
Expert Contributor

Building a Great, Flexible Place to Work

By Ingo Babrikowski | Mon, 07/18/2022 - 09:00

Recently, consulting firm EY released the results of its "Work Reimagined Employee Survey" survey of more than 16,000 employees in 16 countries. The results show the powerful transformation of workers worldwide post-pandemic.

Flexibility, hand-in-hand with technology, governs the "new normal." Everyone loves it and it extends to work times and spaces, the way we dress, or being able to take pets to the office. In fact, 54 percent of respondents say they are willing to change companies if they do not have options like those mentioned.

Remote and flexible work, which before the pandemic was unexplored terrain, has become a decisive factor for the retention of talent. Data from the Inter-American Development Bank indicate that in Latin America and the Caribbean, only 3 percent of workers practiced remote work in 2019. During the pandemic, that number reached 35 percent.

In the first three months of 2020, when we were forced into remote work, at Estafeta we conducted a survey among the team that showed despite some difficulties, from adapting workspaces at home to interacting with family an increase in the productivity of our associates, whose appreciated having more time because they no longer needed to commute.

However, even later, near the end of the second wave of infections, fortunately, the signs that indicated a real need for interpersonal contact and the interaction of teams in a physical environment were already visible. Despite everything, the results that the organization obtained were extraordinary and the commitment of our associates was unwavering.

We have adapted and opened spaces to new ways of working that gradually and intuitively bring together the best of both scenarios. This is how we arrived at a hybrid work scheme, with the administrative team expected in the office three out of five business days. In this way, we have given the option of working from home as a benefit but we can also achieve the agility and spontaneity that a service company requires and that is not achieved with remote work, which can be very rigid on video conferences.  In addition, by being in the office we can transmit our business culture and the Estafeta spirit, which is hardly likely working from home.

For service companies like ours, operational talent management is a parallel universe that has had its own  transformations and requires a totally independent analysis.  The challenge in that sense was even greater. Without the possibility of moving away from the work space, we also had to reinvent the processes that allowed us, as far as possible, to keep our operators safe, along with their families and, of course, our customers. At this time, it is more important than ever to continue providing   the means of care for physical and emotional health and to maintain hygiene protocols in a very important scenario that continues to be affected by new health risks.

Despite all the differences that may exist between operational and administrative work, it is difficult to believe that we can return to the work model that existed before the pandemic.

EY concludes that the transition has contributed to improving the culture and productivity of many organizations, becoming a competitive advantage. I totally agree.

In 2021, in the middle of the pandemic, Estafeta applied to obtain the Great Place to Work certification for the third time. From our management model, "Leadership with human sense," we carried out, at a distance, the necessary steps to prepare employees and test our level of credibility, pride, respect, impartiality and companionship. The moment was perfect for measuring the state of the organization. The result was extraordinary: we advanced 26 positions compared to 2018 in the Top 100 of the best companies to work for in Mexico. Today, we are ranked 30th in a universe of almost 4 million companies in the country.

We are immersed in a new reality that also imposes new challenges. The decisions taken by the Business Continuity Committee were based on the values that govern our organization. With security as the guiding axis, we put people first. It is a source of satisfaction to see that this genuine concern for employees has permeated our corporate culture.  The form has been transformed and the background is enriched by new ways of exercising leadership, equity, and equality; concepts that, by the way, employees also place first in the "new normal."

The above shows again that people continue to be the axis of organizational growth. Measuring the productivity of employees in relation to the time spent sitting at a desk is an indicator that is difficult to maintain with the current model in which talent will undoubtedly deliver to organizations the best of themselves to the extent that they feel understood and supported in the construction of a more flexible and satisfactory lifestyle with the same or greater results.


Photo by:   Ingo Babrikowski