Portugal has been quietly developing a rich entrepreneurial ecosystem for some years now, and with Lisbon hailed as Europe’s “spiritual capital of the tech scene”, it’s the ideal place for Enshored to extend their geographical presence.
With a vibrant cultural scene, a government committed to supporting start-ups, a highly qualified workforce where English is widely spoken and development costs still relatively low, it’s no wonder that Ian Jackson, CEO of Enshored, saw Lisbon as “the obvious choice for us”.
But apart from its lively start-up scene, which has spawned unicorns such as OutSystems and Talkdesk in recent years, there is another factor that saw Jackson open their new European headquarters in Lisbon.
Earlier this year, the Portuguese government introduced a raft of work-life balance laws to support new post-pandemic practices and prioritise employee wellbeing.
These laws make it illegal for employers to contact employees outside working hours except in emergencies. Employers will also be prevented from monitoring home working, and remote working will be governed by contractual provisions.
Welcoming these “progressive laws”, Jackson says Enshored wanted an environment that worked for both the company and employees.
“Portugal acted quickly to try and create a legal framework,” he says of the new laws. “It means that companies who have agreed to let people remain in WFH mode can ask that they come in for trainings, reviews etc, so employees can’t hide – which is good for companies. For employees it ensures that if they are using their own devices and internet to support their employer they will get paid for it. We’d already implemented this in the Philippines so it was great to see this in law. We need our employees to know we care about them.”
He added that employee wellbeing was rightly becoming a bigger priority across the start-up landscape and companies that embraced this would reap benefits in terms of recruitment.
“Key to our success at Enshored is that we attract and retain the best people especially given the nature of the work we do,” he explains. “Much of it is more complex, less stable than much of the traditional BPO type work. We need to be able to offer to both clients and our teams hybrid and/or FT WFH options. We know that WL balance has been core to our clients and prospects too, and we know that they want their partners to closely mirror their beliefs.”
The new Lisbon offices will offer voice, chat, and email services initially, with plans to expand services in the near future. And with plans to grow the team to 50-100 in the first year with a target to scale to 500 by 2024, staff are either beginning to settle in or getting ready for the move – and many welcome the new work-life balance laws.
“I am looking forward to visiting and growing alongside my colleagues and our partners in and around our new Portugal office,” says Client Success Manager, Vernon Yancy.
“We know they have different laws there, but I see change as a by-product of growth, and change, at times, comes with unlearning the old to welcome in the new,” he adds. “This new standard will challenge the entire company to continue on the path of a wellness-first mindset, and when considering our company’s progress with implementing Enshored 2.0, we are ready for this next season of growth, change, and potential unlearning. Personally, this is going to challenge me to impose more wellness and self-care parameters on myself, because I’m also working to become less of a workaholic.”
With employee burnout putting many high performing companies at risk, there’s a growing recognition that this can’t be solved with a few extra days’ leave or a mindfulness app. Solving the wellbeing puzzle requires a decisive cultural shift, which is why the ‘Lisbon leap’ could make all the difference.
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