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Business Observer Friday, May 1, 2020 2 months ago

Executive seeks opportunities amid chaos

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Lance Zingale with Sykes Enterprises also aims to be intentional with his team.
by: Mark Gordon Managing Editor

Company: Sykes Enterprises, Tampa

Revenue: $1.61 billion in 2019

Model: Business process outsourcing, customer service and technical support outsourcing and IT consulting. Works mostly with Global 2000 companies.

Executive: Lance Zingale, chief customer officer, general manager. He leads the Communications/Media/Entertainment, Financial Services/Insurance, Consumer Technology and Products, Travel and Retail divisions.

Working situation: I've been working from home for almost two months. I live quite close to my office, so I've never really had a reason to work from home until now. I have taken over an empty desk in our house — where I have quite a few Zoom calls like so many of us do. Fortunately, though, Sykes employees have been heavy Zoom users for years, so I'm already really comfortable with that platform.

Biggest WFH challenge: Getting used to working from home has proved difficult at times. Each week feels a bit more challenging — the first couple of weeks were fine, but using a laptop and a not-so-comfortable chair day after day can wear on you at times. Of course, I'm grateful throughout all of this. If wishing for a better chair is the least of my remote work challenges, I'm doing quite well. We have a global, fairly mobile workforce, so we were quite prepared for this — or as prepared as we could be — though I do look forward to the day when it's safe to return to the office.

Most important lesson you've learned in the shutdown: Personal and professional worlds have no choice but to collide each and every hour of the workday now, and your employees should feel comfortable and supported through this time. This might mean something as simple as showing your dog while on a Zoom call and just sharing a bit of your own reality — being human. I really try to be aware of that on each call. Additionally, I've aimed to be intentional about offering more recognition these past few weeks. Many people are accomplishing great things for our business in record time, and so much recognition is well deserved.

Books, articles, TV shows, podcasts and/or audiobooks have you’ve focused on: After spending so much of each day on Zoom, I steer away from screen time for relaxation. I really enjoy reading the print edition of The Wall Street Journal, and I really miss receiving the daily paper version of the Tampa Bay Times.

How far out into the future are you looking? As far as short-term tactical planning, I have a timeline through September. When it comes to more long-term strategic planning among my teams, that's set through 2021.

While businesses are facing ample new challenges right now, I think it's key to assess where there also might be opportunities in the midst of all of the chaos. Where and how can your team pivot? For example, Sykes was named one of the companies offering the "10 Best Jobs Working From Home For 2020," by Forbes, so our extensive remote work knowledge and experience position us well to help our business partners now and in the future. We intend to assist companies with this much more throughout the year. Once our world works through these immediate Q2 challenges, I’m excited about our opportunities.

How do you keep the team motivated? Regardless of the work environment, I still get energized about my job. For my team, wherever they are located in the world, we have lots of public displays of recognition. We also work to add humor, games and even contests to our regularly scheduled Zoom sessions. In addition, we’ve launched some team challenges; instead of resulting in individual awards, these rewards now result in teams selecting charities for our business to donate to. For example, if we meet an upcoming global team challenge deadline, we have a sum of money we'll donate to a series of charities, collaboratively chosen by employees.

Exercise or stress relief have you’ve turned to during the crisis: I'm swimming 1, 000 meters every day now, and I haven’t done that in a long time. This is something I truly enjoy.

Last trip to out of the house: I recently went to a pharmacy to purchase new batteries and [to] Publix for groceries. Of course, I wore a mask for both outings. It no longer feels odd! When it's safe enough to dine out again, I'll look forward to a dinner at Timpano’s and of course breakfast at First Watch. And while it will surely be a long time coming, attending a future Rays game will be a treat.

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