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What is workplace flexibility?

Workplace flexibility allows for creative conversations to take place about the nature of work and how it is performed.

Jason Hays“I personally prefer the term work-life integration, where it’s more of a blend of career and personal activities throughout a work day. For example, 1.5 hours at the gym at lunchtime, going to a kid’s event that afternoon or picking them up from school, and then making up the time later in the evening. That’s flexibility.”  

Jason Walker, Champion and Managing Director, Hays

 


 

Barbara Chapman“All of my direct reports at any one time are balancing school pick-ups and drop-offs. Life happens - work is what happens around life.”

Barbara Chapman, Champion and CEO ASB

 

 


 

What is workplace flexibility?

Workplace flexibility allows for creative conversations to take place about the nature of work and how it is performed. As an employer, it’s about respecting the changing nature of work and allowing employees the flexibility to work in an environment where they feel most empowered to do their best work.

Workplace flexibility comes in many forms:  

  • the flexibility of role - how a role is performed or divided
  • the flexibility of place - working from alternative locations
  • the flexibility of work schedule - working flexible hours
  • and the flexibility of leave - supporting flexible leave arrangements.

It can occur in different ways:

  • ad hoc or temporary flexibility - for example, adjusted hours to meet personal needs temporarily
  • regular flexibility - for example, working from home every Wednesday, or
  • a formal flexibility arrangement - for example, permanent part time working.

Successful workplace flexibility ensures continued commercial, customer and individual employee needs are met.

Learn more about different types of flexibility

There’s no cookie-cutter approach to flexibility, and flexibility in corporate office environments will look very different to flexibility options in an operational context. Rather, workplace flexibility is about a broader conversation where all facets of a flexible work environment are considered.

Learn more

Things to consider    

Legislation

As an employer, you have a legal obligation under the Employment Relations Amendment Act (2014) (The Act) to provide a process for any employee to request a flexible working arrangement. This applies to any permanent full or part-time employee at any stage of their employment lifecycle and for any reason. Understanding what workplace flexibility means, isn’t just a ‘nice-to-have’ element any more, but an important part of your role as an employer.    

Education

Flexibility can mean different things to different people, and can be packaged in many different ways. As such, educating your organisation, both managers and employees, on what workplace flexibility means, is an important place to start.    

Debunking the myths

There are common myths associated with flexibility – flexibility is all about part-time mums; our customers won’t like it; it’s impossible to manage workers who work flexibly. As part of creating an inclusive, flexible work culture, these myths need to be addressed and open conversations should be encouraged to explore proactive ways of making flexibility accessible to all.

Further resources

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What is workplace flexibility

Download this fact sheet on understanding workplace flexibility.

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Working flexibly is flexible

Working flexibly is flexible

Download the infographic on understanding workplace flexibility.

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Greg Best, Capacity Engineer, Spark

Greg shares his views on flexibility of hours and family commitments.

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