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Flexible Work Arrangements in Shared Services After COVID

Introduction

The impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic were immediate for everyone, with a dramatic and rapid shift to shutter Shared Services offices as much as possible, with work activities taking place remotely, and most often from employee’s homes, to ensure social distancing and reduce the spread of the virus.  As previously reported in other articles, the ability of Peeriosity member companies to respond quickly with little to no negative impact to quality or efficiency was impressive overall.

The question now at play for many is what happens next?  Once the requirements to work from home go away as the virus concerns are eliminated, what happens to the flexible work arrangements that were put in place as a result of the pandemic?  What decisions are leading companies making as they create their plans for a post-pandemic work environment?

Fortunately, for Peeriosity members, it’s easy to draft an iPollingTM question and instantly find out how other members tackle the problem, with the ability to directly follow up with other participants for further discussion and dialogue.  With Peeriosity, your poll will go to hundreds of members for possible response, with those who have knowledge providing inputs that are likely to be directly on point to solve your issue, all at no cost to you.  Plus, the exchange is completely private, with only Peeriosity members from companies participating in the poll able to access the detailed results and findings.

iPollingTM Results Review

Recently a Peeriosity iPollingTM question was created by a senior Shared Services leader at a Peeriosity member company to better understand the approach member companies are planning regarding communicating a post-pandemic work plan to employees, and whether or not the plan includes a formal Flexible Work Arrangement policy or agreement.

While only 32% of Peeriosity member companies have developed and communicated a plan, it’s interesting to note that none of plans that have been communicated so far will require all employees to return to the office full time.  20% indicated that their communicated plan includes options for hybrid work only with no options for employees to be full time remote, and an additional 12% have plans that include both full time remote and hybrid options.  Finally, another 12% have plans that have been developed but have not yet been communicated, and the balance of 56% have not yet finalized plans.

Regarding the question about having a post-pandemic plan that includes a Flexible Work Arrangement policy or agreement, 65% report that they either haven’t decided on a plan, or they have not yet made a decision regarding whether or not a formal policy or agreement will be included.  The balance of 35% of companies have made a decision, with 19% indicating they have a formal policy and agreement that the employee signs if they choose to participate, 8% have a formal policy but employees are not required to sign an agreement, and 8% will not be utilizing a formal policy or agreement.

Here are some of the comments from responding companies:

  • Our Business Services group is following corporate guidelines (still being developed) and health/government guidance by region.
  • We had remote work arrangements prior to COVID so it is expected that they will continue, and that additional people will opt into working remotely.
  • Policy effective 1 June, it requires employees to complete an application, subject to approval by line manager subject to operational requirements.
  • We landed on a 50/50 policy, so up to 50% WFH. This is up from ~20% WFH prior to COVID.
  • Flexible workday and hour arrangements are possible. Employees can work remotely up to 2 days per week.
  • We had fully remote and hybrid work options in place before the pandemic, so we expect to continue them.
  • We’ve communicated a global corporate plan however local markets, including shared services, are determining what works best in terms of implementation.  We had 50% WFH arrangements prior to COVID and are expecting to expand it as we localize our plan.
  • We have been very fortunate in NZ, with the exception of international travel, that life has been back to ‘normal’ for some time. Covid and lockdowns accelerated our path to more flexible working arrangements. The new normal is for our operational teams to be in the office a minimum of 2 days a week, most people and project leaders are in the office 3+ days. There’s no formal policy as such, we have allowed team leaders and managers to manage accordingly. So far it is working well.
  • Similar to other comments, we had various arrangements prior to the pandemic. Our Shared Services group will follow corporate guidelines that will comply with health/government guidance by region. We anticipate adjustments as the situation evolves, but currently will offer more arrangements than our pre-pandemic options.

Closing Summary

With an aggressive move to Flexible Work Arrangements as a requirement for doing business in 2020, as companies make plans for a new post-pandemic normal, insights to how companies will respond are emerging as more Shared Services organizations formalize and communicate their plans to their employees.  While many have yet to finalize plans, early indications are that few (if any) companies will be requiring their employees to return to the office full time.

Has your company made decisions regarding where Shared Services work will be performed after pandemic related requirements are no longer an issue?  If you do decide to implement a Flexible Work Arrangement, will you create a formal policy that requires an agreement that is signed by your employees?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

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