COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the Work From Home (WFH) proposition for global organizations, prompting a shift from opportunistic leverage in 2020 to rapid integration of WFH within the future delivery model strategy. Now that the dust is settling a bit from the global health crisis, WFH strategy design and implementation will be critical to ensuring global business services (GBS) organizations’ future success. And WFH will look far different than it did in 2020.
Key learnings from 2020
Most organizations successfully transitioned to scaled remote delivery models with minimal service delivery disruptions in response to COVID-19. This experience has served as a critical proof of concept, and exposed key learnings and opportunity areas associated with scaled WFH delivery.
Employee preferences have evolved as the pandemic unfolded, from a strong preference for full-time/partial WFH to a choice between WFH/WFO in a hybrid delivery model
Overallproductivity has either sustained or increased for most organizations. That said, there are issues building below the surface and concerns around false positives, i.e., increase in productivity driven by higher efficiency or higher throughput
WFH can drive the next wave of cost optimization across locations for GBS organizations, though true savings will depend on their ability to exploit underlying levers such as real estate, technology, and talent
WFH has opened new opportunity areas, like accessing new talent markets, improving retention, and enhancing the employee experience, for improving the GBS talent model
WFH is prompting a shift toward a more holistic hub, spoke, and satellite model to enable hybrid delivery models and enhance employee choice and internal workforce mobility
Regulatory environment is still an unknown, though governments are taking a proactive approach to define policies such as taxation and labor laws to enable hybrid delivery going forward
The WFH model is lucrative but comes with complexities like employee fatigue, potential loss of productivity, work-life balance, and loss of organizational culture that cannot be downplayed
Our interactions with leading GBS organizations over the last 12 months revealed multiple key themes that will determine the success of a hybrid WFH model going forward:
Determining roles adjacency, and how they fit into a hybrid delivery model. This is about understanding implications on office design, real estate right sizing, and the technology interventions needed to enable this shift
Training employees, especially front-line managers and new employees, on key aspects of virtual delivery, such as target setting, self-time management, and stress management
Clear articulation and understanding of organizational culture, managing the employee experience, and driving collaboration in a virtual environment
Managing the contingent/extended workforce, including safeguarding intellectual property, monitoring performance, and sustaining productivity
While many GBS organizations are addressing key WFH-related challenges in an agile manner, they must proactively design their WFH strategy and align it with their parent organization’s needs and objectives.
Building a future proof WFH strategy
As GBS organizations build their future WFH strategy, they need to solve for six key elements.
Work portfolio – GBS organizations must utilize a structured and fact-based approach to identifying the best fit work-types and employees for remote delivery, while ensuring a balance between organizational imperatives and employee choice
Talent model – GBS organizations must address multiple talent model changes – including the evolving role of the human workforce, workforce engagement models, talent implications of remote working, and leadership development models – with a focus on adapting the workforce to future delivery models
Locations portfolio – As a holistic hub, spoke, and satellite delivery model gains traction, GBS organizations must evaluate the role of nearshore/offshore locations based on feasibility and cost savings offered by the WFH model across locations. As organizations evaluate new markets with attractive talent cost propositions, especially offshore locations, location optimization will likely happen over the next 6 – 12 months
Technology and real estate infrastructure – GBS organizations must leverage technology to achieve key organizational objectives, such as enhancing productivity, ensuring security and compliance, and improving the employee experience, and to reimagine the workspace, like floor layout, seat allocation, and office safety equipment, to adapt to the unique demands of a hybrid delivery model
Performance management – GBS organizations must identify the right levers and leverage best practices – such as adopting an outcome-driven culture, setting clear goals, and realigning the expectations with remote workers – to drive productivity improvements in a sustained WFH environment
Risk management – GBS organizations must proactively identify business, talent, data, and regulatory risks related to the WFH model and mitigate the potential impacts.
The way forward
COVID-19 has presented organizations with a unique opportunity to re-strategize their priorities, optimize their operating models, and develop a robust future-proof WFH strategy. We believe GBS organizations that proactively seize this opportunity will emerge resilient and stronger.