The Future of Work according to HR Shared Services

Add bookmark

The future of work is now.  That sounds like a movie tagline to some, but to the HR professional it’s reality.

Digital technology is reinventing the work experience for every employee across the globe.  We’re seeing advances in artificial intelligence, mobility, and analytics all of which signal new capabilities.  It’s empowering to the workforce, not to mention providing a much needed “shot in the arm” of energy for those innovative professionals.

How is this trend, however, impacting the world of HR Shared Services?  What are the three drivers of change taking place right now?

1. The Rise of the Gig Economy

“This whole concept of the gig economy, that’s going to change the workplace significantly,” Jami Stewart said.  She’s the Senior Director of HR Services at Cisco Systems, Inc.

“It changes the way that we lead and manage teams,” she said.

Stewart explained that, in a gig economy, the person is not a resource controlled by the company.  Instead, the person is shared with other companies.  It’s a significant change to the workplace because that gig employee can change companies based on their skills and desires with no strings attached. 

“I think it's going to be really hard,” Stewart said.  “Everyone's going screw up at first, but we will have to see some type of change in that.”

2. Technological Capabilities

“I think the next thing is just the capabilities that we get from technology… in terms of working remotely, using video, and everything that we do,” Stewart said.  She further explained these offer flexibility, something she finds employees at Cisco consider really important.

3. Artificial Intelligence

Also weighing in on the question is Andy Parsons, Head of HR Operations and Shared Services-Americas for Rolls-Royce.

READ:  HR in the Age of AI

With the continued development of home AI tools such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home and Watson, Parson says it’s totally conceivable the technology will be employed in the HR Shared Services space sooner rather than later.

“Imagine in the not too distant future, someone would call us up and speak to a virtual agent, it would answer their basic questions… and then someone would manage the transactions behind the scenes,” Parson said.

Tips for Moving Forward

With those drivers in mind, how do HR Shared Service professionals move forward?

Stewart said HR Shared Services at Cisco is all about providing, “balance between cost and experience”.

“You can throw a lot of money at something and get an amazing experience, but you have to also balance it with the fact that, as a shared service, we are about making sure that were keeping the costs down while providing the right experience,” Stewart said.

Parson emphasized a different approach, one of teamwork and inclusion.  He said both were key pieces in the development of their HR Shared Services approach from Day 1.

“We established our shared service center in 2009 and when I look back, the key to success was just making sure everyone in our function and the business was involved,” Parson said.

Parson said they engaged not only key stakeholders in HR, but also those from their finance and procurement departments to name a few.  By engaging stakeholders from other functions, the company was able to discover the best practices of each and essentially include those in their shared services strategy.


At the end of the day, HR Shared Services and business leaders must embrace the future of work to make their companies more collaborative.  This will also help create a more efficacious workforce as well as create new growth and innovation

NEXT:  Who Is and Is Not an Expatriate?