Leveraging a Virtual Workforce in Shared Services

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Sarah Fane
Head of Research, sharedserviceslink
Sep 9, 2020

As all businesses have adapted to remote working, it’s time for shared services to start to look more strategically about what this means for the workforce and how to leverage a more virtual workforce.

More work for shared services?

In a sense, GBS and shared services have been doing a type of remote working for years. Processes are taken out of a HQ or Business Unit and put into another location. This is made possible through having well documented, standardized processes and technology to help ensure visibility.

Despite the success of the shared services model for decades, there is still often a reluctance within a business to move processes to shared services. However, as people are realizing more and more that the same work can be done from just about anywhere with the right technology, it may mean more openness to move processes to shared services.

Shared services and GBS may now need to prepare to scale up to take in more processes and bring in more skills into SSCs.

A virtualized talent pool

Before 2020, many shared services were restricted to hiring people that could access their offices. As companies are now more open to hiring, onboarding and managing people virtually, the talent pool expands enormously.

In a recent panel at the Shared Services and Outsourcing Week, Sanjay Patel, SVP and Global Head of Takeda Business Solutions, Takeda said before 2020, they were generally restricted to hiring hiring people in the locations in which they were physically present. However, with a more open-minded attitude towards virtual working he said, “if I need talent, for example, with machine learning experience, and can’t source at scale in current operations – I can now source them outside my physical footprint. The myth and stigma [of virtual working] is no longer there.”

Particularly for specialized talent, there is more momentum than ever for engaging talent outside your immediate region.

Are we ready for a virtual workforce?

However, it’s important to consider the legal side of employing people abroad. Ensuring compliance to labor laws, taxes, pensions and social security can make this difficult unless you have HR presence or third-party agencies to help.

Also, we have yet to really test how sustainable virtual remote working will be at such a scale among diverse living situations. People working long hours, or in houses with children or multiple people might need extra support or flexibility.

Leading for 2021 and beyond

We don’t know what 2021 and beyond will bring, but we can be fairly confident that there will be a need for more flexibility and listening to people’s preference to work remotely.

Leaders will have to lean into their trust and empathy, but also have robust controls and sufficient training and support for teams and individuals.

What are your thoughts? Join our discussion on LinkedIn

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