Walking the tightrope of flexibility in the workplace

Walking the tightrope of flexibility in the workplace


New technologies are changing the way that people communicate, collaborate and work. With the increased availability of hot spots and faster internet time, plus the evolution of smart devices, it has never been easier to stay connected, including with the workplace.  While some people are concerned that this makes it easier for work to encroach into personal time, others appreciate the ability to work anywhere at any time.

A recent survey conducted by the International Workplace Group (IWG) in 2019 revealed the effects that flexible working has on employees and employers, with some interesting results.  It found that:

  • 85% of people believe that increased flexibility in their work environments has also increased productivity.
  • 65% of people believe that they are more productive if their environment is influenced by tailoring their work environments to match the work they are performing.
  • 80% of people would choose workplaces that offered flexibility over workplaces that don’t.

CCER’s Rita Bhattacharya manages her role as an Employment Relations Specialist with being a mother to her young daughter. Through a flexible working arrangement that allows her to log on remotely from home in the afternoons, she has been able to manage her work schedule alongside her family commitments. ‘It’s the difference between me being able to work full time or not at all’, she says.  The arrangement allows Rita to collaborate with her colleagues in the mornings, and concentrate on discrete projects in the afternoon.

While increases in technology have made it easier to work remotely, not all organisations are able to easily accommodate remote working or flexibility, such as service industries, schools or social services.  There are also proven benefits to organisations when people work together, including enhanced collaboration and professional development (through learning by osmosis).

What the above tells us is that flexibility is a balancing act.  To ensure you remain competitive and don’t fall off the tightrope, organisations should use all the tools in their arsenal to consider ways they can offer flexibility, while not forgetting the importance that connectedness and working together brings to a workplace.  In other words, they need not be mutually exclusive with one taking precedent over the other, and technology is increasingly making this easier.

CCER has recently released an updated set of guidelines  to help employers better understand their obligations and  how to respond to flexible working requests. You can download the guidelines here.

If you want to discuss ways your organisation can work more flexibly, or how to respond to a request you can’t accommodate, remember you can get in touch with our employment relations specialists on 9390 5255 or email us at enquiry@ccer.catholic.org.au

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