Messages on COVID-19 from CEO Chuck Sykes

In the midst of this global situation, most enterprises, communities and people are adopting a “new normal.” Over the past month, SYKES has worked tirelessly to shift as many employees as possible to a work-at-home model. Today, we have more than 25,000 employees working from home. Our business is transforming quickly to ensure team safety and continued operating success in the short- and long-term.

But our hard work is far from over. As many employees around the world find themselves working from home — some for the first time — businesses may notice a difference in the operational quality of a reactive shift to remote (suddenly finding your workforce working FROM home), and that of a strategic home-based deployment (working AT home). Having 20+ years in the work-at-home (WAH) environment, SYKES is focused on ensuring our employees and clients have the advantage of that strategic home-based deployment, even in this reactive situation.

To do this, we must address the critical task of helping our SYKES family feel supported and comfortable working at home as they ensure business continuity for our clients. The good news is, we have a tremendous amount of experience delivering services from our WAH model. SYKES WAH experts are ready and willing to help by sharing their insights and best practices. We continue to focus on optimizing our employees by providing training, support and resources that ensure a successful transition.

In response to the current extreme circumstances, we’ve launched a resource that is available to our employees and clients alike: SYKES TalentSprout — our brand dedicated to developing and empowering people through effective, innovative learning platforms — has provided three courses to help employees, employers, trainers and learners alike succeed in their new at-home world.

Additionally, TalentSprout has developed an internal resource portal, accessible to SYKES teams around the world, that provides practical guidance on how to work at home, how to manage teams remotely, and much more. This resource portal allows our existing SYKESHome team to share their experiences, tips, and tricks so we can all benefit from their expertise. We are proud to provide this important resource that will help operational leaders apply their skills while adjusting to the virtual environment that is now required to keep our business moving forward.

There is a lot of work left to do, but I have faith that we are up to the challenge. By working together, sharing together, and supporting one another, we will come through this a stronger and more united community.

March 31, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic will stand out in history as a world-changing event. In the course of just one month, governments around the world have taken steps to collectively combat the spread of disease — essentially putting economies on hold and changing what everyday life and work looks like for their communities in the process.

In the face of this unprecedented situation, SYKES remains committed to doing what’s right for our employees, our clients and their customers, and the communities where we operate. We are continuously taking steps to protect our SYKES family and keep business going, constantly monitoring the COVID-19 virus and adjusting to any changes in quarantine policy and other restrictions in countries, states, and provinces around the world.

One of the proudest moments for SYKES throughout this situation has been the swift shift to work-at-home (WAH) for many of our accounts. Leveraging the technology and management systems we already had in place, we transitioned nearly half our workforce to WAH within a matter of days.

Implementing such a large-scale shift is a complex process that must be executed with extreme care to ensure business continuity throughout. It’s truly a testament to our expertise in the WAH space that, despite undergoing such a major shift in their daily work lives, we are already seeing examples of agents outperforming their brick-and-mortar performance metrics.

That said, we recognize that offering support and keeping morale high is of primary importance during this transition. To ensure continued success, we are offering our operations leadership access to insights and best practices focused on managing a remote workforce. Our work here isn’t done yet, and we continue to adapt in both on-site and WAH environments. We are proud to share more about how SYKESHome can support your business.

Besides initiating this significant operational shift, we are paying attention to global health organizations and following their advice, including:

  • Limiting non-essential travel and restricting visitors to sites
  • Encouraging social distancing within sites
  • Educating our workforce on proper hand washing, healthy habits and staying home when sick
  • Following enhanced cleaning/disinfection protocols, focusing on high-touch areas: elevator buttons, door handles, breakroom surfaces, etc.
  • Following strict communication protocols to confirm accurate, timely information is distributed as necessary

Finally, we are ensuring every person matters by fighting against stigma and discrimination. While many around the world may be worried or anxious about COVID-19 spreading, we recognize that such fears and anxiety can lead to social stigma toward people of different national origins, people who have traveled to or have contacts in a certain country, or people who were previously quarantined. Any mistreatment of our colleagues goes directly against SYKES’ values and may even constitute unlawful discrimination or harassment. Our equal opportunity employment, Standards of Conduct and anti-harassment policies apply, even (and especially) in sensitive times like these.

We are proud of the work we’ve done to keep business going despite great challenges and obstacles — every day, we continue to help people, one caring interaction at a time.

March 24, 2020 – Last week, I met with more than 700 members of SYKES leadership around the world to deliver updates on the current global health and business environment and our response to the COVID-19 situation. I also shared with them how encouraged I am by the way our teams around the world have responded, working around the clock to ensure the safety of our employees, the continuity of our business, and the security of our clients.

The world is facing a difficult situation right now, and the tough decisions governments are being forced to make have shifted the focus from public health and safety to a question of livelihood for many businesses and individuals. There is no question that this is stressful, but it’s important to remember that this isn’t just about us — the entire world is facing this pandemic together.

I want you to know that we are moving forward in this time of uncertainty with a strategy of preparedness, action and togetherness — as a company and a family. Since the beginning, we’ve taken steps to keep our employee and client networks informed through trusted sources, mitigate risk to our employees and our business, and plan for a sustainable model if this requires a long-term solution. From activating our Crisis Management Team and reorganizing our Corporate Emergency Response Team, to ensuring compliance within our sites around the world as government policies change by the hour — we have diligently worked toward a solution at every turn.

Even with all our standard preparations in place and quick adjustments, the fact remains that this is a complex and unprecedented event, which means that our path through it will be unpredictable. But as long as we’re able to keep our employees online and serve our clients from home, we will be working — we will be there to help and serve, one caring interaction at a time.

Our brand partners are noticing, too. Here are some statements from clients we’re proud to be helping through this:

“SYKES took a leadership role and took extreme ownership of the situation, and has also been very transparent, be it giving us feedback on what we can do better or giving updates from the ground on what’s happening.” – an American business and financial software company

“We are impressed with SYKES’ proactive move to work-from-home … and find SYKES very agile and responsive to the situation.” – an American multinational technology conglomerate

“SYKES’ responsiveness has outshined that of competitors.” – an American bank holding company

Words simply can’t express how proud I am of SYKES’ response in the face of this adverse, unpredictable and complicated situation. This is a historic time for the world, and in such moments, leaders emerge. That’s why SYKES is able to stand together — our people are stepping up, doing what it takes day in and day out, to get through whatever comes our way next.

Thank you for your time and attention throughout this difficult situation. As an employer and a partner, SYKES strives to provide the support you need as we face the COVID-19 crisis together. It is my sincere hope that our efforts and those of enterprises, communities and governments around the world will empower containment of the virus and a enable a speedy recovery worldwide.

March 17, 2020 – While I write this, the world is bracing itself against an international health crisis. As a company, SYKES is closely monitoring how COVID-19 is affecting our community and family across the globe. We are making every effort to support and comply with the decisions of health officials and government leaders to help contain the virus.

In my message last week, I stated that SYKES is committed to the health and safety of our 55,000+ employees and ensuring business continuity for the brands we serve, and in that regard, nothing has changed. We recognized the need early on for a proactive and flexible crisis management action plan, which we have already put into effect and are communicating readily across our enterprise. As we learn more about COVID-19 through trusted sources, we will continue to adapt our business as necessary, contingent on science-based information and the needs of our employees and business partners.

The nature of our business presents some challenges as well as advantages in situations such as this. Because we have sites worldwide — many in highly affected areas — we must take every precaution to ensure the health and safety of our employees, their families and the surrounding communities. Most relevant to our clients, we implemented a restricted travel policy that applies not only to our own employees, but to client visitors as well. We are postponing large-scale events and transitioning as many employees as possible to a virtual environment. For those in our sites, we are continuing to educate and reinforce safe behaviors such as proper hand hygiene and social distancing, and have partnered with manufacturers to source as many sanitizers and protective supplies as we can. Additionally, we have protocols in place to ensure proper cleaning and sanitizing based on recommendations by government and health agencies.

One aspect of our business that we are able to take advantage of in light of such complications is our work-at-home capability. SYKES has and will continue to transition accounts to home-based operations if the need arises. While it is a complex shift to make on such a large scale, we are committed to working closely with our employees and clients to execute as smoothly as possible.

Thank you for your time and attention throughout this difficult situation. As an employer and a partner, SYKES strives to provide the support you need as we face the COVID-19 crisis together. It is my sincere hope that our efforts and those of enterprises, communities and governments around the world will empower containment of the virus and a enable a speedy recovery worldwide.

March 5, 2020 – I’d like to take this opportunity to address the recent escalation and global spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). As a global company, SYKES is committed to the health and safety of our 55,000+ employees around the world and ensuring business continuity for the brands we serve. As a family, SYKES is devoted to ensuring that our employees, brand partners and shareholders feel supported and confident in how we respond in the face of adversity.

First and foremost, we’re taking steps to provide accurate, up-to-date, informed communications by staying connected to appropriate and reliable resources. The “SYKES Pandemic Plan” follows the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global pandemic phases and recommendations, and we have already increased employee communications and cleaning/disinfecting efforts in impacted regions where we operate. We also offer one of the largest virtual workforces in our industry which allows us, in extreme situations, to transition agents, lines of business and even entire accounts to a home-based model if necessary — a strategy we have successfully deployed in the past.

Prevention is still our main focus, so we are encouraging all colleagues, family and friends to take every precaution necessary to stay healthy! Thank you for your attention and consideration — it is my sincere hope that SYKES’ actions and communications regarding COVID-19 allow our employees and clients to feel fully supported and confident throughout this situation.