24 Jul

When Doors Must Stay Open – A Nearshore COVID-19 Success Story

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I just got finished setting up my new home office. This time last year I had a traditional office surrounded by colleagues, on the second floor of a commercial building on one of Medellín’s nicest streets, above an Italian trattoria.

But now I am outside of the city. As I write this, it’s almost 5am and I hear roosters crowing outside and during the day I can hear horses’ hooves plodding by outside my “portón.” We got out of town just in time. Medellín and its suburbs like Envigado, Itaguí & Bello starting today have gone into strict curfew because of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Nobody is allowed out of their homes unless they are facing an emergency. Restaurants & retail are delivery-only. Out here in the countryside, there are still restrictions and public health measures, but it’s not as severe as in the city.

Not everyone can work from home. Many contact centers and BPOs have managed to move quickly to telework. Teleperformance here in Colombia recently announced 4,000 work from home job openings — up from none domestically in 2019. Innovators like LiveXchange have always used a telework model. Ibex Global has moved rapidly to adapt, with a blended model based on the local situation & client needs.

For many reasons, not every BPO or contact center can implement a telework modality. Client contractual obligations, security requirements, or the local connectivity precludes it. One of the nice things about living in this region is that for the first time in my life I need neither air conditioning nor heating. But because of that, the homes are not insulated. That means I could hear what my neighbors were watching on TV—or arguing about. Not the best situation if I am doing high-value contact center work or trying to hold a teleconference. Telework is great, but some centers just have to stay open.

Altia Smart Cities in Honduras is a success story. I have just completed a white paper that you can download here that describes the extraordinary measures that these BPO-oriented free zones took in the cities of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula Honduras to ensure uninterrupted operation for their corporate BPO and Contact Center tenants, while protecting the health and safety of every employee.

Altia Smart Cities went above and beyond the basics, deploying on-site doctors and allied medical specialists to monitor and respond to pandemic related issues, but even provided psychological counseling to employees and even their families. While most of us escape infection, all of us are affected psychologically. I have lost a cousin, a friend and a former employee to the virus. What about you? My former secretary back in Ohio, Carolina Lechuga was from Monterrey, México and left behind a loving husband and 4 kids. Her oldest daughter and my daughter used to play together. I am still close to her family.

Altia Smart cities did a lot of things that normally would be the responsibility of tenants. They provided masks and safety equipment to the employees of its tenants. They coordinated with Honduran government officials to ensure best practices were not just followed but exceeded. Honduras doesn’t come up as often as it should in the discussion of nearshore site selection, but the US ally has a succession of business-friendly governments, a large English-speaking workforce, and very low costs. In addition, Altia Smart Cities provide turn-key solutions where everything from power, connectivity, and staffing are taken care of.

Not every situation is a telework situation. As companies move to re-shore and consider diversifying or moving operations from overseas to closer to home, any due-diligence should include a close look at Altia Smart Cities in Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula.

I invite you to download my latest report by clicking here. Contact me if you have any questions. I would be glad to discuss or put you in touch with Kathia Yacaman and her team of professionals.

Click here to read my new report: When Doors Must Stay Open—Altia Smart Cities during COVID-19

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