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How to lead flexible teams

With over half of the New Zealand workforce either currently working flexibly or wanting to in the future, leadership in a flexible environment is critical to managing the workforce of the future.

Mark Averill"Flexible working is a great example of the trust you have to have in your staff. We need to trust our staff that working at home means genuinely working at home and not another day at the beach. Being flexible means trusting that the outputs change, regardless of how staff are working or where they are working from."

Mark Averill, Champion and CEO PwC 


Peter Vial"Creating a culture of trust is essential. By focusing on outcomes rather than hours logged or time at the desk you empower people to work in ways that produce the best results. We hire smart people and we trust in their ability to get the job done; micro-managing the time or place they work is often counter-productive."

Peter Vial, Champion and Managing Director, CAANZ 



Why is leadership important

Mainstreaming flexible work means changing the culture and practices of the organisation as a whole, not simply responding to an individual or small group of employees‘ requests for flexible work arrangements.

Often the responsibility for making flexible working successful is on the person working flexibly however the leaders and the organisational culture play just as important a role in this which is why seeing the CEO and senior leadership team role modelling flexible working is powerful in establishing it as a normal work practice.

Equipping managers to lead teams that they don’t necessarily see every day means focusing on outcomes rather than hours logged. Trust and communication are key to managing flexible teams that could be working different hours to each other and even from different locations. Fostering a sense of team is even more important when managing in a flexible environment. Technology plays a vital role in this.

It is important to set and manage expectations on both sides to avoid any misunderstandings and potential misuse of flexible work arrangements. Setting clear performance measures and having regular check-ins ensure that any performance issues are not confused with flexibility issues.

Things to consider


Communicate, communicate, communicate!


Ensure there is a culture of trust and mutual respect.


Establish clear expectations and responsibilities.


Acknowledge that change is difficult.


Empower your team by changing from defining how people work to focus on the what to enable people to come up with their own solutions.


Ensure that flexible work arrangements meet the needs of the customer, business and the individual.


Use technology to your advantage.

Further resources

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Leading a flexible working environment

Download this fact sheet on leading a flexible working environment.


Implementing flexibility at Westpac

CEO Westpac and Champion David McLean speaks on the impact of flexibility on business.

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