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Managing challenges

The evidence of the value of flexible work arrangements is considerable, and yet many workplaces continue to resist such changes.

Managing the challenges

Champions share their thoughts on managing the challenges of workplace flexibility, including: the need to lead from the top and role model flexibility; busting the myths and creating awareness; building a culture of trust; and ensuring a whole business approach to flexibility.

The changing nature of work

The prospect of managing teams with flexible working arrangements can be, for some, daunting. Having spent much of the 20th century investing in the maintenance of workplace boundaries –temporal and spatial –it can seem counter intuitive to suggest that it might be best for business if we relaxed those boundaries.

At one time, a manager’s main job was to monitor that employees clocked in and out on time, and your success as a manager was largely measured on this. As our understanding of productivity, value and profit-generation has become more sophisticated we have developed new and more effective ways of working. 

 

Evolution of work infographic

Busting the myths

Today, the evidence for the value of flexible work arrangements is considerable, and yet, we find that many workplaces continue to resist such changes to the way they work. Employees, for the most part, embrace such changes, and when given the opportunity, tend to adopt flexible working practices quickly and enthusiastically.

Resistance typically comes from those in management positions, who are fearful that flexible work results in lower productivity. This sentiment is illustrated by the former London Mayor Boris Johnson who jokingly said of working from home: “We all know that (working from home) is basically sitting wondering whether to go down to the fridge to hack off that bit of cheese before checking your emails again”.

This, however, is not borne out by evidence and companies who do adopt flexible working practices generally experience benefits in productivity, employee engagement and even profit. What is more, in a context in which it is becoming harder to attract talent, value propositions that include flexible work are very effective in attracting people.

Overall, the positive impacts of flexible working outweigh the challenges. However, strong leadership is crucial to the success of moving from a culture based on inputs to a high performing organisation focused on outcomes.

Vanessa Stoddart"One of the first hurdles we have to overcome is many people immediately think of flexibility as ‘part-time’—but workplace flexibility is, in fact, so much more than that.”

Vanessa Stoddart, Champion and Chair Global Women 

 


Chris Gordon“One of the myths is this idea that you need to be seen in the office at certain times, to show that you’re working and working hard.”

Chris Gordon, Champion and Partner and Chair, Bell Gully 

 


 

Potential challenges

It is important to note the potential challenges that arise in conversations on flexibility. Not all roles are suited to specific flexibility requests, and rather, conversations about flexible working need to be flexible and consider a range of options.

The below table attempts to highlight some of the potential challenges and mitigants, but is by no means an extensive list of solutions.

Table of text on managing challenges

Further resources

06 Flexibility and New Zealand legislation thumb

NZ Legislation and workplace flexibility

Download further details on workplace flexibility and NZ legislation.

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13 Metrics and reporting thumb

Flexibility metrics and reporting

This fact sheet and question set is designed as a guide to begin to understand...

Download

BNZ: All roles flexible

Champion and CEO BNZ Anthony Healy shares his insights on flexibility, and how to ensure...

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