Flexible work arrangements work. But rather than relying solely on our word, let’s look at some data.
According to studies, when employees have flexibility in their working options, 71% of them describe their teams as innovative, compared to 57% of those who lack such flexibility. Furthermore, flexibility contributes to a more positive organizational culture and reduces burnout symptoms. In addition, 87% of individuals report an improved work-life balance as a direct result of flexible workplace arrangements.
It’s clear that flexible work arrangements bring numerous benefits to both businesses and employees.
And with actions such as introducing Fair Work Act changes related to workplace flexibility and emphasizing its significance in the recent The Working Future white paper, the Australian government is also actively encouraging this employment approach.
In this guide for employers, we dive into the key insights and valuable tips that will help you successfully implement flexible work arrangements and reap their benefits.
Essential aspects of Flexible work you should know
Here are crucial aspects of flexible work that you, as an employer, should keep in mind.
What are Flexible work arrangements?
Flexible work arrangements are employment practices that grant employees greater autonomy in determining when and where they work. The primary goal is to enable employees to fulfil job requirements as well as their needs and obligations beyond their jobs. These arrangements can be temporary or continuous and may involve adjustments in hours, locations, or work patterns.
There are several types of flexible work:
- Flexible start and finish times
- Flexitime (accruing extra hours and exchanging them for time off)
- Compressed workweeks (working longer hours over fewer workdays)
- Part-time or casual work
- Job sharing (two or more employees share a full-time role)
- Flexible rostering (allowing employees to have control over their work schedules)
- Remote work
- Unpaid leave
- Gradual adjustment in work hours (e.g. an employee gradually reducing their work hours from 8 to 6 as they transition into retirement)
Who is eligible to request flexible work?
An employee, which includes those regularly engaged as casuals, can request a flexible working arrangement if they have 12 months of continuous service within a company. Additionally, the employee must fall into one of the following categories for the request to be valid:
- a parent of a child of school age or younger
- a carer
- a person with a disability
- aged 55 or over
- experiencing family violence
- supporting an immediate family member or household member experiencing family violence
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s explore some essential tips for successfully implementing flexible working arrangements.
Top tips for implementing Flexible work arrangements
The following tips are inspired by The Working Future white paper, helping you align your company efforts with Australia’s current and future labour market trends.
Provide training about flexible work arrangements
It’s vital for your employees and managers to understand the possibilities, requirements, and benefits of flexible working. Therefore, ensure they regularly have opportunities to acquire this knowledge through training.
Here, prioritize training managers for overseeing teams in flexible work, particularly in remote and hybrid work arrangement setups. Provide education on efficient oversight, addressing both work efficiency and psychological aspects like isolation impacting teams. This approach maximizes efficiency while demonstrating a commitment to your employees’ work-life balance, a key goal of flexible working arrangements.
Promote gender-neutral policies
Create and implement policies for flexible work that are gender-neutral and equality-promoting. For instance, consider allowing primary and secondary carers equal access to parental leave and flexible work options.
Always avoid distinctions and encourage equal sharing of caregiving responsibilities to support diverse family structures, contributing to a more inclusive workplace and better work-life balance for all employees.
Foster open communication
When teams can openly discuss flexible working with management, they can honestly communicate their personal needs and reasons for requests. Open communication can help you build trust and understanding among employees, boosting engagement and, thus, productivity (a whopping 69% of employees state they would work harder if better appreciated!).
Additionally, open communication is vital for addressing workplace challenges and enhancing collaboration regardless of specific arrangements. So, establish a supportive environment where people can openly share thoughts and concerns.
Valuable practices you can try to foster open communication in your company:
- Organize regular one-on-one meetings to allow employees to discuss individual needs and challenges openly.
- Communicate flexible work policies clearly and transparently, ensuring accessibility for all employees.
- Conduct workshops to educate employees and managers on effective communication in flexible work setups.
Future-proof your business with Flexible work arrangements
As the labour market evolves – now is the perfect time to start introducing flexible work arrangements to your employees. It’s a strategic move that helps you align with Australia’s current professional landscape and future-proof your business for success.
As HR and employment experts, Fresh HR Insights is ready to assist you. Book a consultation with our team to discover how we can support you in this task.