Photos courtesy of PepsiCo.
Finding balance between your work and home life is often challenging and can mean different things to different people. For Rosie Chong-Gum, Associate Zone Business Manager at PepsiCo — Frito-Lay Division, “Balance means ensuring you give adequate time to yourself, your career and your family,” she says. “Having balance in all three will allow you to give optimal output in each area.”
But how can companies help employees achieve this balance? One way is through flexible working opportunities, such as PepsiCo’s new Work that Works (WTW) initiative, which empowers employees to define their own working balance to achieve greater success. Work that Works means that there are no default day-to-day workplaces for employees in headquarter locations. Associates, along with their managers, choose what work can be done remotely and what needs to be done at the office.
This innovative initiative came to be during the pandemic when, “We learned to use technology differently, and we fearlessly managed our time and learned to set boundaries,” says Yubetsy Nieves, Human Resources Director, PepsiCo Global IT.
The change has been well-received by employees. “WTW brings improved work-life balance to my life and others,” says Johanna Vazquez, Sr. Director Global Beverages R&D. “We can now spend less time commuting some days of the week and, instead, invest in more productive work days from home and spend more time than pre-COVID taking care of ourselves and our loved ones.”
To discover more, Fairygodboss talked to Chong-Gum, Nieves and Vazquez.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, “being at the office was the norm,” says Nieves. “We had flexibility to arrange our schedule based on the work that needed to get done, but like most corporations, we were mostly at the office.” Some departments had the flexibility to allow employees to work at least one day from home to perform tasks that did not require office interaction.
Work that Works is a game-changer that aligns with PepsiCo’s core values to take ownership, focus, and get things done fast. “It's empowering to see what our associates come up with when work is not limited to the office,” Nieves says.
As the rollout of Work that Works continues, employees will be able to further customize their schedules. “I’ll have the opportunity to discuss with my manager what’s the most effective way to get the work done — for me, that could vary week to week,” says Nieves. “I anticipate the majority of my day-to-day work will get done at home; I will leverage the office space for planned events to collaborate, connect, create and/or celebrate.”
As for Vazquez , she notes that the nature of their work in R&D requires spending a good amount of time in the office to develop products, taste and validate them, as well as collaborate to generate new ideas. “We love our time in the office and being there in-person is a more efficient way to get our job done.” Nevertheless, the flexibility is appreciated by this hands-on team. “I personally see myself spending 75-80% of my time in the office with my team creating and collaborating and flexing as-needed based on the week’s activities,” Vazquez says.
Looking ahead, Vazquez says that she is “excited to see how Work that Works further elevates PepsiCo’s workplace culture, with more satisfied and engaged employees delivering even greater results.”
The benefits of the Work that Works program are incredibly important for working mothers, such as Rosie Chong-Gum . “It has allowed me to steadily transition back to work as a new mother,” she says. “The flexibility in schedule and support from my leaders have permitted me to be very engaged in my role, and I am able to have a greater work-life balance. I love being both a new mother and able to grow in my career.”
In addition, “There are many resources available at PepsiCo to help support new mothers, whether you’re looking for advice, childcare or just for someone to listen,” she says.
While Chong-Gum notes that returning to work after being on leave was “a bit challenging,” the support she received from leaders and the Employee Assistance Program made for a smoother transition. “I cannot thank my director Michelle Ross, Territory manager Trisha Jones, and HR Manager Claudia Cuevas enough for listening and being flexible with my transition back to work,” says Chong-Gum. “It really is great knowing that I have a very supportive team behind me who has empowered my career development.”
Vazquez, looks forward to spending extra quality time at the playground with her nine-year-old son on the days she is mostly on Zoom at home. “Going straight to the playground with my son right after a work day and before the sun sets is something I never dreamed of, and it makes me feel happy and balanced even if I get to do it just once or twice a week.”
Between innovative programs like Work that Works, a supportive culture and plenty of helpful resources, PepsiCo employees are able to do their best and truly believe in their company. As Chong-Gum says, the company “takes care of you. They have the resources and support to help you at every step of your personal and professional journey.”
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