Sabina Guerrero, founder of The Job Tailors, shown in The Office "City" coworking space
(Photo Mike Zenari)
Sabina Guerrero calls herself a “happy expat” today but admits she didn’t fall in love immediately with Luxembourg.
She arrived in 2007--“the golden financial years”--when she was “young, and my expectations were to find a big city”. But she was determined to keep a positive outlook and eventually “found a little family here”.
Fast-forward to 2019: Guerrero has 2 children, which exposed her to different circles. “I have the feeling of travelling while living in the city: meeting new people, discovering new cultures.”
While she praises Luxembourg for many other reasons--its social system, healthcare, etc. --she says there’s a lack of coherence with what the nation branding pitch compared to the reality employees face when it comes to work-life balance. “We’re in a country and environment where we care for people and families. We’re selling this really well. [But we] need to apply this as well.”
This realisation (and her own desire for work-life balance) led to her creating The Job Tailors in 2017. Companies contact her at various levels of their transformation, whether they’re just starting off or need a refresher workshop on reminding employees of values, for example, removing prejudices linked to flexibility and respecting how others work.
“If we become flexible, nobody has the right to judge the other,” Guerrero says, citing among her examples of how some employees who prefer to arrive early so they can leave at 4pm may encounter judgement that they aren’t working a full day, which isn’t the case.
Flexible arrangements might incorporate teleworking, part-time working, or allowing employees to manage working hours in a way that works for them--which, Guerrero says, can lead to reduced sick leave or burnout and enhanced productivity.
But it’s also about listening: in her experience, Guerrero has seen cases where bus drivers, nurses, even institutional employees are handed schedules they have to adhere to--despite the fact that perhaps one of them has a dog to walk, increased traffic, or a preference just to work mornings over evenings, when he or she is more alert. “When you are aware of [flexibility], you can better listen to what people need,” she says.
Guerrero says the human element is at the heart of much of her work. “We’re facing social transformations in the way people like to live,” she says, noting changes in eating and consumption habits, for example. She’s seen workers even willing to switch jobs from one district of the city to another, even if there’s a salary difference, just to reduce commute times.
“I see human beings trying to be more human, whether it’s a single man willing to do a yoga retreat or marathon training, or a mother or father trying to be more with their kids. For me it’s the same: we’re facing a human need, and where those needs are answered, of course [people] become better workers.”
“You need to face all parties--what managers say about flexibility, what they or the unions are afraid of. You need to create a conversation around it, and branding of the country needs to go in the direction of it.”
But she also hopes to delve deeper, and The Job Tailors aims to build a survey to have national statistics about workplace flexibility and to learn why more companies don’t get on board.
“Everywhere I go, I receive the feedback of workers that they aren’t happy, or articles that cross-border workers now are even willing to stay on the other side of the border to improve their lifestyle. If we are already looking at this, and on the other hand we have statistics saying that the number of cross-borders will rise exponentially…why don’t we react now?”