Flexible working arrangements in the United Nations system organizations - JIU/REP/2023/6

The Joint Inspection Unit is pleased to share the Review Highlights and Full Report for the Review of Flexible working arrangements in the United Nations system organizations prepared by Inspector Victor Moraru.

Prior to the global health emergency, only a fraction of United Nations personnel took advantage of flexible working arrangements (FWA). The COVID-19 pandemic experience and lessons learned accelerated the reassessment of FWA in the United Nations system. According to the information provided by the JIU participating organizations, the destigmatization of flexible working arrangements, the digital technology enabling teleworking and the cultural shift towards work flexibility have led to significant increased interest on the part of United Nations personnel in the use of FWA post-pandemic, as well as to higher levels of acceptance by managers and teams, in particular of teleworking modalities.

The JIU report recommends that the emerging commitment towards FWA should be acknowledged in the organizations’ human resources management strategies and that the reporting to legislative organs and governing bodies on the utilization of FWA and the associated impacts needs to be optimized. FWA data collection and analysis should be improved and the impacts of the assumed benefits and unintended consequences of FWA should be measured to ensure that, inter alia, teleworking modalities work for both the organizations and personnel. FWA policy design should be enhanced through precise terminology and generic definitions for FWA, necessary to clearly establish the FWA policies’ scope, to support policy design fit, and to differentiate these arrangements from other forms of flexible work. The inclusion of clear-cut concepts, including that of quantifiable commuting distance, and of additional policy elements reflecting inter alia the principles codified in the United Nations System Model Policy on Flexible Work will further enhance FWA policy design and support the effective operational implementation of FWA.

The report, furthermore, recommends developing harmonized criteria for the maximum duration of teleworking outside the duty station and for the adjustment of entitlements and benefits, in case of its use beyond the maximum duration, with a view to achieve system-wide coherence. It recommends voluntary periodic reporting on the implementation of the UN System Model Policy on Flexible Work to maximize its benefits. The relationship of FWA and new ways of working in the “new normal” should be clearly established, and the latter’s definition should be further explored, as a part of a broader transformation of the UN workplace and workforce.  

In total, the report makes nine formal recommendations: five to executive heads, two to the Secretary General, in his capacity as Chair of the Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB), one to the United Nations General Assembly and one to legislative and governing bodies.  These are complemented by 40 informal recommendations.

For the Report, click here

For the Review Highlights, click here