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How can a digitized GCC of the future still be rooted in human values?

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At the recently hosted EY GCC Leadership Forum, a virtual discussion with leaders from Global Capability Centers (GCCs) across sectors and functions, the focus was on a hybrid working model in the future. In the post pandemic world, one cannot ignore the importance of a hybrid model and the need for flexibility, for both employees and employers. Flexible working has become the new currency for attracting, retaining, and motivating top talent. This emerging phenomenon also clearly comes out as part of EY’s Work Reimagined Employee Survey 2021. The survey which covered more than 16,000 employees across 16 countries including multiple industries and job roles, states that given the choice, more than half of the employee respondents (54%) would choose flexibility in ‘when’ they work. By comparison, 40% want flexibility in ‘where’ they work. On an average, employees would want to work between two and three days remotely post the pandemic.

Flexibility is the master key in the return-to-work strategy

One aspect that clearly stands out is that the hybrid working model is here to stay, and that the future of work will be directionally more flexible, subject to regulatory considerations. Employee expectations are towards greater flexibility and they want a mix of work from home and office during the week.

The EY Work Reimagined Survey corroborates this point, stating that in India, 85% employee respondents believed, that their productivity can be accurately measured irrespective of location. However, we realize that GCCs in India are at different stages of evolution and have varying views about return to work strategies depending on the evolution stage, which ranges from early starter to mature center. Flexibility will still be a key lever, which can be used by organizations, to create a niche for themselves, in talent attraction and retention.

Another aspect which came out during the EY GCC Leadership Forum, is that not all employees are positively inclined towards a full return to the workplace at this moment, especially those who stay far from the office. Hence, organizations have a key role to play in communicating the future working model to their employees while keeping them at the centre of decision making. On the other hand, as Return-To-Office commences, some of the GCCs leaders have experienced, that with the workforce back in office, it has led to increased collaboration and alignment with the organizational culture, and positive employee feedback in terms of networking opportunities.

Enhancing organizational resilience keeping ‘people at the center’

GCCs have come out stronger on their business continuity planning post the pandemic and they now have a much better understanding of their organizational resilience. Some of the GCCs highlighted the importance of purpose to building organizational resilience, both at an organizational and at an employee level. GCCs should also help their employees define their purpose, especially as the workforce demographics change, which will in turn strengthen the organization. Leaders will need to walk the talk by emphasizing on the purpose of the organization to its workforce.

During the pandemic GCCs tackled numerous risks – technology risk, compliance risk, financial risk, operational risk – but the one that concerns the most and continues to aggravate is cyber security risk. GCC leaders acknowledged that cyber security threats/ attacks have increased manifold since the pandemic. GCCs have taken numerous mitigation initiatives, including building up their cyber security teams, mandatory quarterly certification programs for employees around cyber threats to raise awareness, running attack/ phishing simulations, amongst others.

Upskilling and reskilling employees with niche and next-gen technology skills remains the need of the hour to augment the talent pipeline. In the medium to long term, collaboration with educational institutions will also play a key role towards building a business-deployable pool of resources. These steps will help Global capability centers in the next normal to continue acting as an innovation engines and drive new ideas across their wider organization. Further, Global capability centers in the next normal will be better positioned to attract the best talent while competing with the wider cross-industry ecosystem, including both long-established organizations as well as start-ups.

The key long-term workforce considerations for GCCs are:

  • Bring flexibility and workforce experiences to life across all employee roles
  • Drive a vision of shared purpose to enhance service experiences, value, and drive innovation
  • Incorporate agile and digital talent, upskilling and reskilling, into the learning strategy to upgrade capabilities and enhance resilience

The article is authored by Kunal Ghatak and Manoj Marwah, Business Consulting Partners at EY India. 

(Sayan Banerjee and Tarush Baldhi, Senior Managers at EY also contributed to this article)

Note: The article was first published on