The jury’s in – flexibility drives productivity and business performance. Flexible ways of working are increasingly the norm in Australian businesses, with employers more likely than ever to offer a choice of where, when, and how their people work. Globally, 81% of businesses offer their employees a level of choice about where and when they work, while at home, 70% of Australians report working on the move more than they used to.  

“There’s a belief that the bigger the business the more inflexible they are – that may have been the case in the past, but it’s simply not the case anymore,” said Vanessa Hicks, General Manager Organisational Effectiveness at Vodafone Australia. “Not only has big business come to the party in a big way, but we’re seeing a broader spectrum of people access flexible working. Everyone is benefitting from flexible working arrangements – including business.”

So, how can you make flexible working work for you?

Know your employer’s flexible working policy

Company culture varies enormously, and while some flexible working options are a government mandate for certain kinds of employees, there’s a huge spectrum of what flexible working looks like from workplace to workplace. Look on your company intranet or talk to your HR representative about what options may be available to you.

Have a conversation with your manager – and follow up with a pitch

Even within a company culture, managers may have vastly different opinions on flexible working, as well as their own ideas about what works and what doesn’t, based on the requirements of the business, team, and your role. Depending on your manager’s style, either a casual conversation or a more formal pitch may be appropriate to position your suggestion.

Be tech savvy

It’s crucial your technology supports your work, especially when working remotely or non-standard hours. Working from home is not working alone, and it’s crucial your internet and mobile coverage keeps you connected and allows you to get the job done. There’s an abundance of apps to help you get organised and stay connected.

You’ll also need to make your workspace an attractive, comfortable space to work that is free from distractions.

Be a team player

Flexibility is a two-way street. The Monday to Friday, 9-5pm gig is increasingly rare, and with businesses offering their employees people more flexibility than ever before, there are times your employer is going to ask you to return the favour.

Keep communication open

The importance of open, frequent communication cannot be overestimated. Ensure you’re regularly checking in with your manager to ensure your flexible working arrangement continues to work for you and your employer. If working remotely, keep connected to your colleagues in a variety of ways – phone, IM, SMS, Skype, email, and collaboration tools like SharePoint. With some of the Internal Comms team in Hobart and everyone working from home regularly, we love Skype with video – it’s almost like we’re all in the same room. 😀

Four flexiwork myths – busted.

  1. Flexible working = part time working.
    Working part time is just one potential way to work flexibly. Other ways include working from home or another location outside of the office, working outside of regular office hours, job sharing, or changes to normal start and finish times.
  2. Flexible working only benefits women.
    Everyone benefits from flexible working! Not just for parents (although terrific for them, too), flexible working is great for both millennials and senior executives and helps those with carer responsibilities as well as people with a disability. And ultimately, businesses benefit by attracting and retaining the very best talent.
  3. Flexible working should only be available to senior members of staff.
    Some business leaders believe that only senior staff can be trusted with flexible working arrangements. Not only is this bad for staff morale, but we feel it’s completely misguided. Using the right tools can also help managers keep track of a mobile team’s productivity without having to ‘babysit’ staff.
  4. Flexible workers are less productive.
    In fact, the opposite is true: flexibility drives productivity and greater flexibility = bigger profits. In a recent Regus report, 72% of global businesses surveyed reported an increased productivity directly because of flexible working practices, and in 68% of cases, firms declared flexible working staff has generated more revenue.

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Elyse Glenn

Internal Communications Business Partner

Elyse Glenn,
Internal Communications Business Partner

Passionate about people and culture, Elyse is interested in how mobile technology can help us connect, communicate, and collaborate at work.

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