SAP’s Pledge to Flex initiative is a bold commitment to support a flexible and trust-based working environment for its global and diverse workforce in the post-pandemic era.

What does this new world of work look like for the more than 110,000 SAP employees across the globe?

Hybrid Work: Our Way Forward

As part of our vision to reimagine the way we work in the future, the Pledge to Flex program is SAP’s strategic response  to the changing demands of today’s — and tomorrow’s — workforce.

SAP’s Journey to Working Hybrid Around the World

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SAP’s Journey to Working Hybrid Around the World

SAP has practiced remote work for decades and flexibility is part of the company’s DNA, but the pledge addresses the increased desire for more flexibility at work, which is a trend that SAP and many other companies see in the labor market. Aiming for the creation of a leading-edge working environment where employees can thrive, Pledge to Flex is based on empowerment and self-organization driving world-class innovation and productivity while meeting individual requirements.

Dr. Christian Schmeichel is senior vice president and chief future of work officer at SAP. He leads the global Future of Work organization, which designs innovative strategies how SAP’s employees work today and in the future. “Flexible work is a key differentiator for attracting and retaining world-class talent in a highly competitive labor market,” he says. “Getting it right sets the foundation for a successful journey into the future of work.”

True flexibility comes to life when employees get to choose from where they do their best work — whether that is in the office, remote, or at home. We see this as a hybrid approach, giving employees greater autonomy in line with business and customer requirements.

Hybrid work is not a new concept. What is new is the strategic imperative and the degree of participation, alongside an increased level of remote work.

SAP is making a purposeful investment in supporting everyone to run at their personal best; all people get to participate and have conversations about what, when, how, and where they are working, as well as what options are available to them.

The transition to this new world of work is well underway at SAP, with the model implemented across 75 countries. Results of our latest employee survey suggest that Pledge to Flex is widely appreciated, with positive effects of hybrid work on employer attractiveness, empowerment, and productivity

Employee survey results

Connecting Teams in the Age of Hybrid

Clear communication, continuous listening, and a focus on health and well-being are cornerstones of SAP’s success in this regard. But what does the right balance of working from the office and in remote locations look like?

Dan Barton, User Experience lead and co-founder of Bluestonex UK, a member of the SAP AppHaus Network, proposes: “Why should people return to the office if they can work remotely? [Companies must ] create a compelling reason for people to be in the office, and use the location as an opportunity to build a team culture.”

Building a strong team culture with both onsite and remote working opportunities is key to success. As such, SAP places focus on the creation of easy-to-use tools to build relationships, foster collaboration, and focus on health in any work environment.

Flex Team Workshop

There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to hybrid work, so managers and teams must define new ways of working that best meet business requirements while supporting individual needs. To facilitate the process, SAP AppHaus and the global Future of Work team co-created the so called Flex Team Workshop as an innovative methodology for team development. The approach helps managers and employees jointly determine a setup that drives collaboration and productivity while putting business and customer requirements front and center and supporting the work-life balance of team members.

“Who would have thought that a simple new work breakfast series that started in the SAP AppHaus became an integral part of SAP Human Resources,” shares Andreas Hauser, senior vice president and head of SAP AppHaus Network. “We co-created the new Flex Team Workshop with the Future of Work organization, and the workshop format was so successful within SAP that we decided to also make it available to customers and partners. This effort contributes to our vision of hybrid work and lets teams successfully create their own next way of working.”

In 2022, Flex Team Workshop has been introduced globally at SAP and has over 850 trained facilitators. It was listed among the finalists of the Constellation Supernova Awards 2022 and the German HR Excellence Awards 2022, a testament to the importance of how teams organize themselves in a hybrid world.

Enablement material is available to all SAP customers and partners as a free resource within SAP’s innovation toolkit.

SAP teams performing a Flex Team Workshop
SAP teams performing a Flex Team Workshop

Key elements of the Flex Team Workshop format include:

  • Running the 90-minute workshop as self-service tool
  • Understanding business needs and each team member’s requirements
  • Aligning on key activities and social interactions in the office as well as when working remotely
  • Building consensus on a tangible hybrid work plan

FlexConnect App

The FlexConnect App is the digital counterpart that brings flex work to life when working in the office. It supports employees to organize their work week and book work spaces and meeting rooms.

A social component allows people to connect with team members and colleagues by showing who else is in the office and where to find them. Together with the so-called “moments together onsite,” which are ideas for creating compelling reasons to return to the office, the experience of togetherness strengthens social coherence, which is particularly important in the age of hybrid.

Health as Imperative

A changing work model requires state-of-the-art health and well-being offerings acknowledging that happy and healthy employees drive the greatest value to customers and communities. Hence the health, safety, and well-being of our people is a business imperative, with a holistic focus on mental and physical health. Further underlining our commitment, we are proud to be among the first global corporations to have signed the #MentalHealthPledge.

Health offerings for SAP employees include:

  • Are You OK?, a company-wide global mental health initiative
  • Employee Assistance Program with 24/7 confidential support and psychological counseling
  • Healthy leadership training for managers
  • SAP Global Mindfulness Practice program with trainings on mindfulness and emotional intelligence
  • On-demand trainings for employees in physical health

In the End, It’s All About People

Making an organization future-proof must be top of mind for every leader. It requires organizations to be more resilient, adapt to strategic changes, and have flexible organizational models along with a culture that embraces disruption and change.

In the end, it is people creating, executing, and running all of this to be successful in the new world of work. People are therefore front and center in everything we do.