What is flexibility?

Flexible working arrangements, as defined by the Fair Work Ombudsman, are changes to the standard hours, patterns and locations of work. Flexible working arrangements are usually implemented in response to a request from an employee. While any employee can request flexibility from their employer, only some employees are specifically entitled under the Fair Work Act to make a request.

More details are available on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website.

Flexible working arrangements can take a variety of forms and some examples are provided (in Table 1. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list.) Flexible hours of work; Compressed working Weeks; Time-in-lieu; Telecommuting; Part-time work; Job sharing; Purchased leave; Unplanned leave; Flexible careers; Other choices about hours, patterns and locations of work.

The benefits of flexibility for teams and organisations:

➡➡ Improved output. For jobs that require concentration, working at home, working at hours when the office is quiet, or working from another location, can help with the quality and speed of the work.

➡➡ Flexible workers can be more effective. Successful flexible workers are excellent self-managers who are both well organised and effective communicators.

➡➡ Improved ability to serve clients and stakeholders. Working from an alternate location might allow more clients to be seen or more calls to be answered. An organisation that works flexibly can expand service delivery hours, meeting customer needs for out-of-hours contact with the organisation. This extra level of service can increase customer loyalty.

➡➡ Retaining knowledge, skills and experience / avoiding the cost of recruitment and retraining. In the current job market, flexibility has become an attractive feature of organisations. Retaining knowledge and skills is an important issue for most organisations, and offering flexibility reduces the likelihood that employees will leave.

➡➡ Employers of Choice do flexibility well. If your organisation aims to become a WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality, your request for flexibility may align nicely with that aim. This could help you to position your request in a way that places it clearly in the context of helping to meet organisational objectives.

➡➡ Increased job satisfaction. Employees who have opportunities to work flexibly have been shown to have greater job satisfaction and this increases both their productivity and their sense of loyalty to the organisation.

➡➡ Setting the example. When managers set an example by openly supporting flexibility and working flexibly themselves, it helps other employees and teams to understand that working flexibly is a normal and accepted part of work.

➡➡ Improved teamwork. Teamwork often improves as knowledge and enthusiasm are shared among a more motivated flexible working team.
Once you have understood what flexibility means in terms of changing the hours, pattern or location of work, and the benefits of flexibility in workplaces, it may be time to consider how you will go about requesting flexible working arrangements for yourself.

Attributions: Australian government | Workplace Gender Equality Agency 

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