June 28, 2022

A toolkit for how to request flex work that works for you

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Not all flex work is created equal. Companies range from remote-first, to a hybrid model, to the dinosaurs (that aren’t Endorsed Employers) who still expect everyone to be in the office full-time with no option for remote work or flexible hours. If the organization you work for is still in the Jurassic dark-ages, we’ve got some stories and advice to help you time warp them into the future. 

We spoke to nine of our Endorsed Employers about the variety of flex options they provide their staff, and discuss how you can use their examples to make flex work, work for you.

Examples to add to your business case 

The whole point of flexible working is to enable people to work in a way that best suits their lives and circumstances, while still supporting business needs. That means there’s no one way to do flex best!

As you look to request or discuss possible flexible working arrangements with your managers, it helps to have a few examples of different options for how you can find flexibility that works for you and the business. Here are a few that offer a little something for everyone. 

At Nufarm Limited, they have a clear formal Flexible Work Policy, and the expectation on leaders is to determine how Nufarm can support flexible work arrangements – rather than on individuals to advocate for themselves. Nufarm discusses flexibility prior to the first interview and throughout careers.

Kieran Williams (he/him), Talent Acquisition Business Partner shares:

“Nufarm is proud to say our motto is ‘Come as you are and unearth the possibilities’. Our formal policy advocates for HOW flexibility can be offered not IF. Our flexible work policy is gender-neutral and flexibility at Nufarm isn’t just location-based but also prioritizes health, wellbeing and flexibility in how and when you do your role. Nufarm isn’t 9-5.”

The lesson: You might be surprised at how open your company is to flexible working. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want from the very beginning. 

At Ericsson Australia, they encourage ownership to make sure flexible arrangements work “within the team” rather than using a generic corporate-wide approach. Dixy De La Rosa (she/her), Head of Service Delivery, shares:

“Ericsson believes in the professionalism and commitment of its employees to deliver outcomes, anchored in an attitude of trust, regardless of where and when they do the work. In Australia, a flexible way of working has been in place for over 10 years, underpinned by a flexible work policy which enables a range of arrangements including flexible start/finish times, part-time, and remote working.”

The lesson: Discuss what arrangements would suit your productivity and outputs with your team. 

Flexible work opening doors to a different kind of life

“Having a flexible work environment has enabled me to combine my career with my life in a way I never imagined was possible 10 years ago.”

“It has enabled my partner and I to both participate in family life combined with meaningful and impactful careers. Having the freedom to structure my working hours means I can walk in the daylight hours or join my friends for training during school hours. I can’t imagine going back to the daily commute and believe flexible work opens up opportunities to a much larger pool of talent.”

–  Madeline Murray (she/her), Group Manager, Australia, ConsenSys

IGO have set up their flexible work arrangements to cater to a multitude of requirements, offering various options. Options include a compressed working week, job share, part-time, and TOIL (Time Off In Lieu). IGO also has a formal “Work from Anywhere” policy empowering employees to choose where and when they work.

Rheinmetall Australia is in the defense industry, where traditionally there have not been flexible work options. As they evolve beyond best practice for their industry, Rheinmetall now offer

  • A 9-day fortnight for all employees
  • Loyalty leave
  • Study leave
  • Amended start and finish times and compressed working weeks
  • Work from home and remote working, and
  • Adjusted working hours including part-time and job share opportunities.

They are committed to the continual evolution of their offerings.

The lesson: Flexibility isn’t just about working from home, or just about letting working parents pick up their kids from school. There are boundless opportunities for every style of life.

Athena Home Loans also offers a breadth of options to enable more people to take up flexible work. Their offerings include remote working, compressed working hours, flexitime (where you choose your own working hours), and career break options where your role is protected.

Remonda Gabriel, Employee Experience Manager, clarifies,

“There’s no one-size-fits-all approach at Athena so we like to be flexible with our flexible working policy. We’re open to hearing what our people want and we work together to make it happen for them.”

How flex has an impact

Sophie Johnson at Canva, relocated with her family to Perth, without needing to change companies or roles. 

“For me, flexibility is about making work, work for me and my family. That isn’t the same each day, week, or month but Canva trusts me to do what works for me and focuses on impact over hours.”

Showing a similar lean towards flexibility enhancements as Athena, BAE Systems’ Flexiverse launched this year. They anticipate employees will see a range of options for greater flexibility and benefits across a range of categories, including family, culture, and community.

Emma Proszkowiec (she/her), Inclusion & Diversity Lead elaborates:

“Over recent years we’ve been purposefully piloting different flexible work arrangements for different teams within the business – including compressed 9-day fortnights. This allows employees to test different working patterns with the support of management and their peers. Employees are always encouraged to speak with their line managers about working models that will best support a positive outcome for them and the business. Open communication is encouraged and supported.”

The lesson: The key to making flex work, work, is open conversations with your managers. Even if you don’t know what you want, talking about your needs may help you tailor your arrangement.

Canva also understand that individual needs change over time. Stephanie Zuniga-Maher (she/her), Talent Inclusion Partner, shares:

“We encourage open conversation as individual circumstances constantly change and we want to give everyone the flexibility to work in a way that suits them and their team, whether it’s for the afternoon or for 3 months! For ad hoc or short-term flexible work, like taking a few hours to go to your child’s assembly or a doctor’s appointment, there’s no approval needed- just communicate with your team. For those that are looking at a permanent shift to part-time or a compressed work week, we’ve made the process as easy and straightforward as possible.”

“At Canva, we champion two things in our working style: Flexibility: Ensuring flexibility for our team to work in the way that they feel most productive, whether that’s predominantly at home, in an office, or a mix of both. Connection: Empowering our teams to collaborate and create meaningful connections while having the space and opportunity to connect and look towards the future.”

The lesson: Your flex working needs will change over time, so don’t be afraid to ask to amend your setup to meet your new life needs.

Advice for how to best ask for what you need

Being supported to work flexibly shouldn’t be difficult – but no one can read your mind. In order to access the best possible arrangement for your own life and circumstances, it’s important to speak up and ask for what you want. Kieran Williams (he/him), Talent Acquisition Business Partner at Nufarm Limited shares:

“My advice is don’t be scared to ask for what you want and need in a workplace. Candidates have a choice in the market and work/life balance is important to have a great career. Remember you’re your own longest relationship- invest in it!”

Working in a way that suits your personality

“I work flexibly as a remote employee. While I keep traditional working hours, I have all the resources I need to complete my job at home.”

“Having recently switched careers, working from home makes me feel at ease in big life changes. I can focus on learning about my job and co-workers while not having to worry about a new desk and office space. It helps me focus and be the best employee I can be.”

– Chelsea Watson (she/her), Talent Acquisition Analyst at Aflac

To get the most out of the flexible working options in your organization, Charmaine Scott (she/her), Employer Branding Specialist at Rheinmetall Australia suggests:

“Have an open discussion with your leader around your personal circumstances so individualized plans can be put in place to best support your unique situation. Familiarize yourself with the flexible working policy and speak to HR if you have any questions.”

Rheinmetall starts with a simple form thay employees can use to request flexible work, and they encourage verbal discussions and agreements to agree details and ensure the arrangement works for everyone.

How flex work can connect families across the world

“Essentially my grandfather was unwell and I had to go home with only a few weeks’ notice, my coach helped me by directing me to the remote working request policies, etc. She then spoke with the Supergroup Lead who gave me the verbal approval (like it was a no-brainer).”

Although it asked what hours I was working in the application, I never felt like I had to work those hours (often late and super early to accommodate for time zones). I was supported in prioritizing my work and meetings to team-based stuff, which was more for ‘keeping connected’ rather than deliverables. And yeah, I didn’t have to use annual/sick leave which was huge for me.”

– Emma Pawson, Canva

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank also encourage transparent conversations between employees and people leaders so they can focus on the pieces that matter. Belinda Leon (she/her), Employer Branding Specialist, shares:

We know offering flexible work policies that enable choice and support the delivery of significant benefits to both individuals and organizational outcomes makes good business sense.”

Remonda Gabriel, Employee Experience Manager at Athena Home Loans supports what we’ve heard from other Endorsed Employers. To get the most out of the flexible work options at your organization, Remonda’s advice is:

“Always share your thoughts and requests with your people leader. Find out what works best for you and the business and work with your people leader to make it happen. We understand there are times when having the option to work virtually is invaluable. For many people working virtually is often working from home and for others, it’s working from anywhere.”

Flex is the future

Companies are being more and more innovative in the way they apply flexible work arrangements across their company. The main way to make sure you get the most out of what’s on offer is to speak to your manager and ask for what you want.

Have the employers above inspired you? 

Be sure to see the other great DEI work they’re doing by checking out their Endorsed Employer Pages: 

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About the Author
Samantha Sutherland is the Chief Storyteller at WORK180. She is a Diversity and Inclusion specialist with an analytical background, making her work evidence-based and data driven. Host of WORK180’s Equality Talks podcast and her own Women at Work, Samantha divides her time between interviewing amazing women for WORK180, mentoring and coaching women in, or aspiring to, leadership roles, and providing high-level advice on diversity practices to Australian corporations. You can learn more about the Samantha Sutherland consultancy at samanthasutherland.com.au.

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.