There’s so much content out there that tells employers about the benefits of letting their employees work flexibly.
This article won’t be doing that.
There are so many articles out there that talk about how the pandemic has changed the minds of employers on the viability of flexible working arrangements.
This isn’t one of those articles either.
While we’re at it, it won’t be about tips for employers to embed the best flexible working policies either.
No, this article is about you. The employee. The person who is sick of wasting an hour and a half of their lives in traffic every day to get to and from work. Or the person who doesn’t want to feel tied to living in one city, while missing their friends and family in another. Or the person who’s tired of missing their kids’ sports carnivals – even if they’re only winning participation awards.
WORK180 wants to help you find the flexible working options that will help you thrive.
And not just help you thrive professionally, but personally, socially, physically, and mentally too.
How to know which flexible working arrangement is for you
These days there are so many different flexible working arrangements available. It can create a choice overload. So, we’ve created a quiz to open your eyes to options you may not have thought of before.
To navigate the quiz, either scroll down through all the questions, or use these shortcuts:
Question 1: Do you have young or infant children you would like to spend more time with than your usual work hours allow?
This is a common reason for flexible work requests, but abundance does not reduce the value of the request. When you have a good work-life balance, you’re more likely to have the mental and emotional energy to give your children the loving attention they need to develop, learn, and thrive. And a well-balanced family life can also help you manage stress and prevent burnout at work.
Flexible working arrangements that might help you include:
- Part-time work arrangements: Part-time arrangements don’t have to be forever either. These can be set up as a transitional process to help adjust back into the workflow upon your return from parental leave.
- Alternative work hours: Being given the freedom to select the times of day you work might be useful if you need to work around school hours or nap-time schedules
“I started my flexible working arrangement (four-day week) in 2019 after returning to work post the birth of my son. Having one day a week to spend with my young son was important too for quality time together. MessageMedia was extremely supportive and tailored my KPI’s accordingly to cater for the part-time nature of my role.
MessageMedia really pride themselves on providing a great work-life balance for people’s individual circumstances. We have a culture that’s focused on diversity and inclusion, and women’s participation across all levels.”
Geraldine Loh, Manager at Bain & Company
“Flexibility to me has always been about being able to find ways to balance fulfilling my work and personal commitments both in the long term and on a daily basis.
I was offered the option to take on a part-time role when returning to Bain from parental leave which was a great way to transition back to work and has allowed me to enjoy a full weekday with my son. On a day-to-day basis, working flexibly means I can ensure that I log off on time for daycare pick-ups, and am empowered to prioritize the work for later in the evening vs. the next day. My direct supervisor is also instrumental to protecting my part-time arrangement. He had ensured that my non-workday is always protected and offers immense coaching and support.”
Amy Royle, Project Engineer – Mining Decarbonisation at OZ Minerals
“I am currently working part-time from home, generally working two full days as well as a few hours spread throughout the week when my one-year-old daughter is napping.
My role prior to pregnancy was 8/6 FIFO (fly-in, fly-out, eight days on, six days off) working 12 hours a day, which was not sustainable once I became a parent. Flexible working arrangements have allowed me to stay in mining and continue to develop my career at OZ Minerals where previously I had assumed my only option was to leave the industry. With the support of OZ Minerals, I have been able to build a healthy balance between my career aspirations and being a mother, which has been fundamental for my mental health as a new parent.”
Question 2: Do you have a side-hustle or hobby that makes you happy but that you have difficulty finding time for?
Flexible working isn’t just for people with young children. Everyone has different circumstances and priorities they need to juggle, and everyone deserves a supportive workplace that offers the flexibility to manage those priorities.
This can be achieved through:
- Compressed work weeks: The opportunity to complete your full-time hours, over just four days gives you an extra day to use on your hobbies or side-hustles.
- Part-time work arrangements: Like the compressed workweeks above, having an additional day off can be helpful. Alternatively, working fewer hours each workday, can free up chucks of time for you to switch your focus to something that makes you happy.
Jessica Richter, National Product Offering Manager at KONE
KONE’s strategy is to empower its people to have the most capable and engaged team and by fostering a caring and collaborative environment that prioritizes flexibility everyone now can thrive both personally and professionally.
“For me, working flexibly allows me to share priorities between work and home to strike a work-life balance that previously was not attainable. Now that my children are older, I have used the flexibility to better myself by taking Friday morning golf lessons before work. This allows me to focus 100% of my weekend on my family and friends but still allow a little ‘me time for exercise; a healthy body equals a healthy mind.”
Áine Corbett Regional Property Manager for Woolworths Group
Áine has two careers which she is equally passionate about. One as the Regional Property Manager for Woolworths Group and the other as a qualified dog trainer and competitor. Working flexibility at Woolworths allows Áine to be very involved in dog training and compete in dog sports. Specifically, agility and nosework (nosework is an activity that allows your dog to use their natural desire to hunt. In training, dogs learn to find one of three scents just about anywhere you can hide it). Áine competes during winter and trains four nights a week and on weekends.
Question 3: Do you have a health condition that requires accommodations to help keep you productive?
Except in circumstances that directly impact your ability to perform a job, you need not divulge information about a disability or illness to your employer or a prospective employer.
That being said, there are plenty of accommodations an inclusive employer will offer (should you choose to disclose) to ensure you feel valued and successful in your role. One of these may be flexible working options.
These might be:
- Working from home: In these circumstances working from home might allow you more comfort than an office environment. Or at the very least, less discomfort without having to endure prolonged commutes.
- Alternative work hours: Having the freedom to select the times of day you work might be useful if your health condition is accompanied by extreme fatigue requiring you to take frequent and extended breaks.
Zoë Field Co-Chair for the EY Ability Network at EY Australia
Zoë Field was diagnosed with multiple auto-immune diseases, including one that restricts the production of healthy red blood cells and their ability to effectively carry oxygen around her body. These require lifelong treatment. Symptoms such as extreme fatigue, ‘brain fog’, and visible tremors in her hands and face mean Zoë must closely manage her lifestyle and stress levels.
Zoë’s passion for diversity and inclusion drew her to EY due to its positive reputation and, the visibility of its inclusion strategy. She is the co-chair for the EY Ability Network at EY Australia and strives to ensure that everyone is given the same opportunities to shine on every project they are assigned. By removing the barriers surrounding disabilities and educating others, Zoë wants to contribute to an environment of acceptance for all, and encourage people to bring their ‘whole self’ to work.
Zoë, Manager, Product Governance & Regulatory Change at CommBank
“Working at CommBank has enabled me to manage a chronic and often deadly liver disease in a way that no other workplace has. It’s been quite literally life-changing. Working from home part-time from day one, and full-time since the onset of the pandemic has meant that I can manage full-time work while improving my health.
Most empowering has been the all-embracing positive culture and attitude of the team to my arrangement. This is what makes me love working here – whether that’s in person or online – because I can throw myself fully into work without it coming at the expense of my health. I was surviving, but now (ironically during a global pandemic) I’m thriving. CommBank as an employer is saving my life.”
Question 4: Do you have the type of personality that thrives on variety?
The job ad when you applied read ‘no two days will be the same’ and that’s just the way you like it. If a sense of ongoing adventure and challenge is your thing, then flexibility is going to be a must in your work life.
Or maybe it’s your life outside the work realm that holds the variety, and you need a workplace with the flexibility to keep up.
If either is the case, you might prefer these types of arrangements:
- Telecommuting: Working from home is technically a type of telecommuting, but you can just as easily work from a public library, a co-working space, a coffee shop, or anywhere else with public wi-fi.
- Hybrid working arrangements: One of the most flexible of flexible work arrangements, you could work some days in the office, and others via telecommuting.
“In December 2021 MessageMedia announced our shift to a Hybrid Working Model. Employees and managers have the autonomy to agree on the days from home and days from the office. While the business encourages and welcomes everyone back to the office there is flexibility to work remotely. It’s up to the individual on how we want to structure our working week!
I find two days in the office and two days at home is the perfect balance for me – bringing back the social interaction with colleagues, whilst being able to crack on with client activity at home. It also really helps with school drop off and pick-ups.”
Phil Williams (he/him), Art Director at King
“I have the flexibility to choose when it’s most valuable for me to be in the office. I balance the needs of my team with my own personal needs to get the best out of this hybrid work approach. If I need a change of scenery or energizing from being around colleagues, the office is available for me. These arrangements allow me an improved work-life balance without a daily commute.
Team first, hybrid working has allowed King employees to flexibly work from different locations. This has given me the chance to work with a wider and more diverse team. This grows me as a leader and a manager as it exposes me to a wider range of ideas, personalities, and experiences.”
Question 5. Does living and working in the same city as your workplace conflict with other priorities in your life?
After the pandemic limited travel for the past few years, things have well and truly begun opening up again. Perhaps you want to make up for lost time and work and travel abroad. Maybe you’ve been missing family in another city or country and need to spend some quality time together.
The cost of living and real estate might also be making you stop and consider the pros and cons of staying in the city you currently work in.
There’s really only one easy option to help you here:
- Remote working: Sometimes this term is used interchangeably with working from home or telecommuting. However, what we’re talking about here is an arrangement where physical proximity to the workplace isn’t necessary at all. With a remote working arrangement, you’ll have the flexibility to do your job from anywhere in the world.
Elena, Manager, Diversity & Inclusion Insights at CommBank
“I joined CommBank right before the restrictions of the pandemic were first introduced in Australia. Living and working in Melbourne, I’d felt connected to my team in Sydney even though I hadn’t met them face to face yet. We had regular video calls, and openly shared the ups and downs of living through a global pandemic.
During Melbourne’s second lockdown, I received care packages from my team and heartfelt messages of support. I love that I can achieve my career goals here without compromising my personal goals and mental health.”
Question 6. Are you someone that is intrigued by the idea of job-share?
Ok, ok, we ran out of creative personality questions for this one. That’s because the truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for who will be suited to a job share arrangement. It’s an option for anyone who needs to work part-time (for whatever reason) and has an employer willing to explore the possibility.
Chinetta Ren (she/her) and Joanne Cheng (she/her) share their role as Business Banking Executive, Business and Private Banking at NAB.
“We commenced our job share on Valentine’s Day 2015 and have moved roles together across the bank, starting as Senior Business Banking Managers in Corporate Health, then Associate Directors in Government Education & Community, and currently Business Banking Executives over the last four years.
We are passionate about sharing a work-life and are fortunate that we work for an organization that values its colleagues and flexible working. We’ve learnt that working with a job share partner may not be as difficult as you think! Overall, the ability to move around within the bank and do different roles together has been incredible. Not only are we helping our customers by showing them how to improve their finances, but we are also passionate about being role models for anyone who is considering flexible working as the possibilities are endless and the journey is so rewarding!”
Laura, Executive Manager, Financial Well-being at CommBank
“I started at CommBank as a full-time Executive Manager almost seven years ago. For personal reasons, I requested to move to a part-time role working three days a week. I had an open conversation with my manager. We landed on a job share arrangement where my role would be shared between me and a colleague. Between us, we had one day of overlap to set us both up for success.”
Question 7. Are you someone who wants flexibility on the types of flexibility they can ask for?
Maybe none of the questions above fit you quite right. Maybe you said yes to all of them. It can hardly be called a flexible working arrangement if there are rigid rules applied to when and what you ask for with no room to change your mind later.
So perhaps these employers have something to suit you.
Okta challenged themselves to understand the changing utility of office environments in a world where freedom and flexibility are top priorities for their employees. The result was a new framework that they call Dynamic Work.
They envision a collection of creative hubs dedicated to in-person touchpoints and experiences. They should be reachable for employees, contractors, customers, and partners who are co-located geographically, and offer opportunities to work onsite, access resources, test products, and gather for company events.
Okta believe that Dynamic Work is different— and so much more—than simply working remotely or having a distributed workforce. Dynamic Work is Okta’s cross-functional framework that defines the elements of enabling employees to be their most productive, engaged, and successful selves in a flexible work environment.
Dynamic work is all about empowering workforces across the globe with flexibility—working from anywhere, with benefits and opportunities customized to their needs, and the knowledge that the office is also a place they can go to connect, create, and engage as needed. Okta want their offices to be an experience—like an Apple store, where partners and customers can try their products and talk to their experts, and employees can collaborate on their own time, in their own space.
Whispir promotes flexible working, not just where you work, but when you work. While they have offices in most of the countries they operate they promote hybrid working styles. They do also have opportunities for remote-only if you are in a different city to their office, or for any reason coming into work may be challenging.
Most of their roles also offer complete flexibility on when you work. They have individuals who prefer to start early and finish early or start later and finish later. They also look to cater to school drop-offs, pickups, and personal appointments, because their employees know how to get the most out of their day.
For those joining Whispir, they encourage employees to discuss their flexible working needs with the hiring manager. This is actually one of the first things they highlight in the recruitment process. It’s ensured each potential candidate understands what flexible working looks like at Whispir, as it may be different depending on the role they’re applying for. For example, leadership roles may require more office face-to-face time.
All employees are encouraged to create a work-life balance that’s sustainable and rewarding.