Syngenta Tells us How They Leveraged Remote Work in Order to Innovate and Prepare for the Future During the Pandemic

There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced every company to change, even companies who had already integrated remote work into their culture. 

During our Workana TV live series, we spoke with Daniella Bonança, Syngenta’s Head of Talent Acquisition in Latin America, a multinational corporation specialized in seeds and chemical products for the agricultural industry.

Bonança and Workana Brazil’s Country Manager Daniel Schwebel discussed ideas on innovation, remote work, and success stories. We’ll tell you about their experience below.

Remote work is no Longer Just a Job Perk

Even before the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Syngenta already had a remote work policy in place that allowed administrative professionals to work remotely twice a week. Supported by technology and supported by this department’s managers, this was a perk that many employees were already using on a daily basis.

But despite remote work not being an obligatory benefit, the company has always been very flexible about its remote work policy because they understand that not everyone has the best conditions to make it work. According to Daniella, the company’s biggest challenge when implementing a home office culture was creating empowerment in managing people and transforming it into a reliable process which could increase everyone’s daily productivity. 

There was a huge change management effort to show that remote work had a positive impact and creates a better work-life balance for employees.

At the time, employees who had never imagined that they would be able to work from home began to embrace the new reality of remote work. This can be a big challenge for manufacturing administrative teams who are used to being governed by traditional roles, processes, and even project management.

The biggest problem now is that work doesn’t qualify as remote work; it’s more of a quarantine and isolation period. This is why employees find themselves in difficult situations like not having a stable wi-fi connection for work and school. This means that we can’t necessarily work the same way. In other words, it’s essential to understand that people are simultaneously working and dealing with other challenges from home.

In order to support employees, Syngenta has provided tools, tutorials, and programs to make the adjustment a bit smoother. 

Online mindfulness, yoga, and stretching classes, and even happy hours have become common occurrences in everyone’s daily life and help lighten the mood. Facilitators are the same employees that lead these practices according to their experience.

One of Syngenta’s biggest discoveries that the company has made during this time is understanding that leaders have to be flexible and capable of understanding that not everyone’s work conditions are the same.

For Daniella, this is a great opportunity to establish trust and shift to a results-oriented mindset, moving away from a need to have control over everyone and everything and instead identifying priorities and trusting in the teams’ deliverables. Remote work teams now require leaders to fully trust them.

Furthermore, it’s essential to have flexibility to understand that schedules may change a bit in comparison to the usual nine to five work routine during this time period.

Quarantine Success Stories

With an idealized and regimented plan regarding selection processes, new employee integration, trade shows, and events, to name a few, everything had to be revised and reinvented. In extraordinary record time, the company achieved great milestones that became success stories and opportunities for the future. 

The first success was making the admission, onboarding, and hiring processes 100% online. During this time, HR lead two virtual group dynamics focused on internal recruitment with ten candidates, four managers, and the HR Business Partner team. This process would have cost approximately $10,000 using the traditional method, but by making this process online, it cost the company nothing. 

There were some who opposed this format, citing quality and efficiency as reasons for their opposition, but the HR department maintained that using technology would support all dynamics and guarantee the best results.

In addition to the financial benefit, this process brought agility to the company because people didn’t have to leave their homes and travel to a common location with everyone involved in the event. And it’s never been easier to adjust everyone’s schedules for the same day.

The dynamic between company managers has already shifted, and this change will probably be permanent in the future for the purpose of optimizing company resources. 

The Sales Kickoff which takes place annually for the two companies, seeds and crop protection, is another example of a Syngenta success story.

Between participants and content producers, over 2000 employees are involved annually in this in-person event. This event was scheduled to take place in 2020, but with quarantine, the event was transformed into a virtual event in less than three weeks and gave more people the opportunity to participate and check out the strategic direction content.

What was the result? Productivity!

They used tools like zoom for presentations with a lot of interaction from all participants who also had the support of Whatsapp to interact and send photos during the virtual event.

Learning for the Future

There’s an urgent need to continue breaking paradigms. “When you’re open to ideas, an expanded mind doesn’t revert back to how it was before”, Daniella said. All these actions taken by the company will allow them to blaze new trails, and this shift will be permanent in every event that the company holds. There have been several transformed events, and in the future, these events will become the new normal.

Every success story serves as an experience to better direct the company’ resources. The sales event is an example of this; Syngenta is already researching a hybrid event to increase team building and the feeling of belonging amongst employees who can participate in this annual company event.

When this period ends, we’ll have to transform the learning process and optimize our use of time and money.

Are you looking to achieve innovation and agile transformation in your company? At Workana, you have access to the best remote talent to empower you to innovate, even from a distance. Get to know our professionals and start innovating quickly and easily through our platform.

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