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Workplace flexibility practices are evolving - catch up!

If you’re only just considering adopting flexible work practices in your organisation – you’ll need to be aware that it’s evolving, and the former controlled policies and practices are no longer as compelling to top talent, nor will they contribute to your employee engagement and productivity in the same way that truly flexible practices will.

Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many individuals and groups of varying sizes regarding ‘flexible working and work-life balance’. Through a broad range of focus groups, workshops, events, speaking engagements and individual conversations about diversity & inclusion, this topic is inevitably tabled and heavily debated.

Early in 2016, I read an article in The Age, on the struggles working parents experience in juggling career and family commitments, and this closely reflected many of the stories I was hearing, and also of my own personal experience at some stages of my career.

The constant juggle that career couples with children feel they need to perfect in order to balance these things on a weekly basis, takes the planning precision of a military operation! One unanticipated change in work schedule or a sick child, for example, can easily topple the whole lot! We’ve all been there! It’s, therefore, more and more important for families, particularly when there’s no extended family support, for both partners to boldly influence or request, embrace and role-model flexible working arrangements.

Organisations who understand the merit of a fully flexible workforce have by now tossed away any old flexible working policies (such as; agreements in writing, flexibility only afforded to women with children or change in work hours without any other type of flexibility) and there are still many misconceptions, such as “Part-time work = flexible work”. Those who foster the belief that “work is what you do, not where you go” are the ones that will succeed.

Kate Boorer articulates this point perfectly in her article, ‘Redefining Flexible Working”, stating, “Organisations must be willing to accommodate individual needs into flexible working arrangements if they are going to remain competitive into the future, and employees have to push forward, challenging old accepted models of flexibility to develop a new culture of what flexibility means in Australia”.

It will also take both men and women to equally be bold and prove that flexible working can be successful and rewarding for all involved – so if you haven’t already got onboard… what’s stopping you?