Global Service Centers in Uruguay assess continuity of operations during the COVID-19 pandemic

The companies highlighted the government's response to the health crisis, the solid institutional support, and the modern technological infrastructure offered by the country, a safe and reliable business hub.
Publication date: 11/06/2020

In a challenging international context, due to the health crisis caused by COVID-19, Uruguay is recognized as a reliable partner by global services companies installed in the country, which gave continuity to their business despite contingencies. 

The solid government management of the crisis and the support given to companies, such as unemployment insurance and the temporary relaxation of the free zone regime for teleworking, were key aspects for the adaptation of companies to the new reality. 

The multinational company Alorica, dedicated to providing Customer Care and Technical Support services to international clients with approximately 550 employees in Uruguay, managed to have 70% of its staff teleworking, while the rest continued with their tasks from the offices. The Human Resources manager of the firm in Uruguay, Cecilia García Montejo, highlighted that "good internet connectivity has allowed work to continue from home without interruptions". In that sense, she said that "the infrastructure and connectivity have made the difference" in relation to other locations of the company.

On the government's management of the health crisis, García Montejo pointed out the importance of measures such as the design of health protocols for companies, which have allowed companies to "operate with the greatest guarantee". "In the case of Alorica, we have followed these protocols 100%. We have high standards of compliance, audited internally and by our own clients". 

The executive also emphasized the importance of the measures deployed to alleviate the economic consequences of the health crisis. "The government's support for the relaxation of unemployment insurance has been very positive," she said. The resolution, adopted in May, makes it easier for workers affected by the health emergency to access this benefit, in order to avoid losing their jobs. 

The executive director of BASF Services Americas, Mike Miles, who heads the chemical giant's service center for the Americas with more than 500 positions, highlighted in his LinkedIn account "the positive development of pandemic indicators in Uruguay," which has allowed the company to return to the offices after nine weeks of teleworking.

"Our Country Incident Team here in Montevideo as done a great job developing a Return to Office Plan and defining the required health, safety, and hygiene protocols," said the executive. Miles noted that the remote work system is still the preferred option at the Uruguayan headquarters. "Return to office is happening on a voluntary basis and is limited to a maximum of 30% of office capacity", he said on his social network.

BASF is one of the international companies that have chosen Uruguay as a regional hub for its operations. The country offers a series of advantages that make it an exceptional destination for this type of investment, such as its recognized stability, favorable business climate, tax benefits, government incentives, availability of qualified talent, and a developed logistics and technological infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the Country Manager of Mercado Libre in Uruguay, Rafael Hermida, highlighted the qualities of Uruguayan professionals and the advanced digital infrastructure as key aspects for the adaptation of companies to the new reality. "The entire ecosystem around Mercado Libre was able to continue operating without major problems thanks to the good infrastructure of both software and connection," he said.

Regarding the response of the company's staff, which employs 1,100 people, the representative of Mercado Libre emphasized that "the adaptation was very fast and occurred naturally, both because of the qualification of our workers and because of the actions taken by the company," he added. 

He also highlighted the speed of the government's response to the arrival of the coronavirus. "Key was a decree that the government issued immediately after the declaration of a health emergency to allow teleworking by workers in free zones. This enabled us to continue operating in our regional center, providing services to several Latin American countries," he said. 

"The state, business chambers, academia and companies, among many other actors, have been working for many years to strengthen this digital ecosystem, and the results can be seen today: there is a very high penetration of the Internet (90% of households have access) and also of smartphones, there is excellent talent and there are clear rules and strong institutions. This will allow companies to adapt and navigate the 'new reality' successfully, but not without first changing and in some cases reinventing themselves," he said.

After the appearance of the first Covid-19 cases, the government immediately implemented several measures but never decreed the mandatory confinement of the population. Instead, the strategy was to appeal to civic responsibility. In the context of the current health situation, where companies must seek mechanisms to adapt to the new reality, Uruguay is a reliable and secure partner for doing business in the region.