June 7, 2022

Repeat after me: Let’s not flex on flexible work

flexible work

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Most companies know that offering flexible work options is non-negotiable post-COVID. People have become used to having more autonomy over work hours and location, and they like it! In fact, research shows that flexible work promotes both women’s and men’s workforce participation, employee satisfaction and productivity – so it’s definitely not just about parents.

According to our partner Blisspot, employees are more than willing to explore opportunities elsewhere if organizations cannot or will not place human at the center of work.

So, we spoke to eight of WORK180’s Endorsed Employers about the flexible work options they offer, and the positive impact it has on staff. Because flex work isn’t just about letting mothers leave in time for daycare pick up – it’s about giving all your employees what they need to balance their lives, so they can give their best back to you. 

The benefits of remote-first ways of working

Pre-COVID, most companies expected most of their team to be in the office most days. But more organizations are moving to a remote-first strategy, where remote work is the primary option for employees. By definition, remote-first means that few (if any) people are regularly required to perform their jobs from a centralized office.

At Canva, they take a remote-first approach to flexibility.

“We don’t think of it as flexible working, it’s just how we work. We believe in the mantra of ‘what works for you, works for us’.”

“This focus on balancing flexibility, connection, and what works best for each person, means we don’t have any strict requirements for the number of days or hours spent in the office. We champion the idea of working from anywhere, whether it’s a few weeks overseas to support family, a camper van in Broken Hill, or one of our Canva Hubs.”
Stephanie Zuniga-Maher (she/her), Talent Inclusion Partner at Canva

ConsenSys has a similar remote-first approach. One of their core values is “we embrace innovation” and they have continually pushed traditional boundaries to be part of the future of work, fully embracing a remote-first work culture from day one.

“We hire the best talent, from almost anywhere in the world, and this diversity is reflected in the products we are building. This is not merely a policy, it is what sets us apart, it is who we are.”

“At ConsenSys, we put less emphasis on where or when you work and focus on delivery. We give our team members the flexibility to choose where they work and give them sovereignty over their schedules. Our team members can choose to work from home, go to one of our offices in major cities around the globe, or request passes to use co-working spaces depending on individual preference.”
Amanda Keleher, Chief People Officer at ConsenSys

The benefits of hybrid working models

A hybrid working model allows employees to work partly remotely (often from home, but also from alternative locations that suit them) and partly in the office workspace. Whereas remote-first doesn’t mandate any time in the office, hybrid workplaces will expect people to physically be in the office for some days of each week or month.

Ericsson’s hybrid policy empowers managers and employees to determine how, when and where work takes place, to meet the needs of the team, the individual, and the business. Ericsson recently re-launched its Flexible Working Policy, based on two key principles:

  1. Employees are always welcome in the office, where they believe culture and community connections are built.
  2. Managers are empowered to approve flexible working.

flexible work

“I have worked for Ericsson on and off for about 20 years, starting as a Graduate Engineer in Ireland. Over that time with Ericsson, I have been a manager with the ability to facilitate flexible working arrangements and I have benefited from the ability to work flexibly as an employee.”

“When I returned to Ericsson after taking a couple of years off to be a mother, I started back on a part-time basis which made my transition back to work stress-free. Once I moved back into a full-time position, I was able to work from home one or two days a week which, as a working parent, enabled me to achieve a great work/home life balance. I now work predominantly from home as a remote worker.”

– Janet Crosbee (she/her), Managed Services Engineering Manager at Ericsson Australia

Athena Home Loans understand that giving people autonomy in choosing when and where they work improves their quality of life.

“In the past flexible working was limited to just a few options i.e. part-time hours or one day from home. In the last few years, we’ve seen a significant positive change to the term flexible. Athena has moved to a Hybrid working model and it’s given people time back in their days, freedom to work wherever they want, and endless opportunities to live and work in places they never thought possible. Work is more than just earning your pay at Athena, it’s about living your best life.”

Remonda Gabriel, Employee Experience Manager at Athena Home Loans

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank have a similar approach. There are no set days or number of days in the office mandated across the business, rather they ask employees to come into the office for the moments that matter. Bendigo and Adelaide Bank are hybrid by default, so people don’t have to request working from home options in non-customer-facing roles. Clear policies, processes, and guidelines ensure people are supported to manage their work and personal commitments through an ever-changing landscape.

Finding flexibility in jobs that you’d think to have none

It’s one thing to provide flexible and remote working options when the company and most roles are office-based. But what do companies do when they’re production-based or operational?

Charmaine Scott (she/her), Employer Branding Specialist at Rheinmetall Australia talked about how they have introduced flexible working in the defense industry.

“Flexible working at Rheinmetall has changed significantly in the last five years. With COVID and various lockdowns, it was critical for our organization to pivot and review our work practices along with everyone else. This opened the door for more widely accepted flexible working options for all of our employees as defense has traditionally always been an in-person working environment.”

“Now flexible working is part of our DNA. The other opportunity for us has been working in a global company. We have had the opportunity to extend flexibility to allow crossovers with our European counterparts with time differences, so employees can work from home and adjust their hours to suit meetings so that they too have a work-life balance.”

“Now our employees work remotely, from home, or in other locations as they need to. We have flexible start and finish times, and extra leave options, and from January 2022 we work a 9-day fortnight. We also had our first fully remote employee commence last year (based on the West Coast of Australia outside of our East Coast operations). Rheinmetall has evolved heavily in this space in the past few years and will continue to do so.”

How flexible working arrangements empower employees

At BAE Systems they know that empowering people to decide how flex work best suits them, means you get the best results – for the person, the team, and the company.

Madeline Webber (she/her) is a Project Manager for BAE Systems , and they’ve supported her return to work after having children. Encouraging flexibility means they retain all her corporate knowledge and expertise, while she can balance being a parent. They’ve continued to focus on her development, and Madeline is committed to both her family and work. Everybody wins. Madeline says,

“BAE Systems has been extremely accommodating to my flexible working requirements since I returned from parental leave in July 2021. I returned to work three days a week to ease myself into the transition of working and caring for my daughter, Georgia. I now work four days a week, usually with two days from home and two days in the office.” 

“I have found that as my home life changes, so do the requirements of my working arrangements.”

“For example, some weeks it is easier for me to do a few longer days and have a shorter day to accommodate for my childcare requirements. My line managers have all been supportive of my needs and have encouraged me to return to work at my own pace and only take on what I think I can manage. My project team are also aware of my outside commitments and are happy to work with me to ensure I can continue to meet the objectives of the project. At times, this requires some compromise but without this ability to work flexibly, I would not have been able to return to work and lead a project of this complexity. ”

Flex is the future

It truly is the case that flex is the future. From remote-first, to a hybrid model, to innovation in the application, we know that employees want flexibility. Giving employees autonomy, and understanding they have a life to balance around their work makes people more loyal and committed. So, your company can only benefit from providing flexible work options.

Have the employers above inspired you? 

Be sure to see the other great diversity, equity, and inclusion 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.