Posts Tagged flexible working arrangements
Working from home is not a new concept. However, more and more people want to work from home as part of a flexible working choice. The federal government has a target of 12% of public servants working from home by 2020. Workers in late career may choose to work some days from home as a way of transitioning to retirement. New business owners and entrepreneurs often start out working from home. But those of us who work from home (including yours truly) might tell you it’s not always what it’s cracked up to be! If you choose to work from home, there are some guiding principles to help make it a success.
Set up a dedicated space. A study is perfect or a spare bedroom. Or if room is tight, a portable desk that can be rolled out when you’re ‘in the office’ and rolled into a corner for when you’ve finished for the day. You’ll need to consider occupational health and safety. There are plenty of workcover guidelines to help you with that.
Schedule your work time and commit to it. If you have shared calendars with colleagues you can indicate when you are ‘in the office’ and ‘out of the office’. It might even be worth putting a sign on the front door to let visitors know. You may need to let people who drop in on you that you are ‘at the office’ or working between these hours. This practice will also help you contain your work so that it doesn’t interfere with your home life.
Schedule interaction with colleagues or friends and attend networking events. Even if you are introverted by nature, you still need to maintain contact with colleagues and friends. A quick phone call to check in with your colleagues or provide an update to your manager keeps you focussed. It’s very easy to become isolated. When you work in an office everyday, you interact with people as a matter of course. It’s important to be intentional about it if you’re at home. Make sure you schedule some face to face time with your colleagues and clients at some point.
Communicate outcomes and progress. Beware the cynics and those who are fixated on presenteeism. You will need to communicate your progress and achievements. Join in on meetings via teleconference to be present. Surprisingly, there are still people who believe you can’t be working unless you’re in the office or physically sitting in the meeting. It’s 2013 and we have a raft of technologies to help us connect. Use them!
Make the most of it! The advantages of working from home include no commuting time and spending more time in your local community. Make the most of it. Get a load of washing on and take a 10 minute break to hang it out. Be home for the technician who’s coming to repair something. Pop up to the local cafe for a coffee to connect.
The government telework website has a wealth of research and resources about working from home.
Interested in a discussion on telework? Join the Sageco Wisdom Circle on LinkedIn.
Much of our Envisage research supports the catch cry that we often hear: “I would be happy to work longer, but would need to work differently.” The term ‘telework’ is hardly new; it was first coined in the 1970s as a solution for reducing traffic congestion. It’s taken longer than expected for employers to catch on, but with advances in broadband technology it is an ‘easy to implement option’ for flexibility. For mature age office workers, teleworking could be part of the answer to staying in the workforce longer – but working differently.
Below are three links to useful research we’ve unearthed in National Telework Week.
Great data to support your business case for allowing employees to telework.
A Canadian online article about the productivity advantages of teleworking.
Australian article from The Conversation that helps you consider the social impact of telework and issues associated with telework. Includes links to further rewearch. How do you match the telework job with the right individual?
The application of flexible work conditions is often patchy at best. Mainly because managers don’t feel equipped to address flexibility requests. But if we want to keep mature workers in the workforce, then flexibility must be addressed. Is it time to have a conversation with your mature workers about flexible work options?
Got a comment to make? Join our LinkedIn group – Sageco Wisdom Circle.
This week I had the chance to hear Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Bill Shorten and the queen of ‘making sense of work’ Professor Barbara Pocock share the podium at an Adelaide CEDA forum entitled ‘Why and how should we work?’
Barbara has been researching work, employment and industrial relations for over 25 years and is the Director, Centre for Work and Life, Uni SA. She shared some of
her latest research on why we should work. The last 12 years has seen a trend for a growing attachment and identification with work. In the centre’s research, more
than 70% of people say that work ‘is an important ‘of who I am’ and ‘relationships at work are important part of my social life’. In 2001, 60% of people said that
work is meaningful and they would still go to work if they weren’t paid. In 2012 it’s 80%. And 96% said that it is really important to use my skills and expertise.
This must be good news to employers. But Barbara warned that there is a dark side to this. The boundaries of time and place in work are weaker. There is more
opportunity for exploitation and unfairness. Individuals can give too little attention to many other positive life activities. This attachment to work can crowd out
other important stuff; we can love our jobs too much. Yes – there were many nods in the room.
Bill Shorten is a credible workplace relations minister. As a union leader and in his role as minister, he has visited thousands of workplaces.He spoke about the
need for employers to create good jobs where employees make meaningful contributions.
One set of statistics he quoted (which I can’t source, though he mentioned the NY Times) was that worldwide there are 1.2 billion ‘good jobs’. A good job was defined
as one with 30+ hours and a reasonable pay cheque. The global labour market is quoted as anything from 3.5 to 5 billion people – competing for 1.2 billion good jobs.
Regardless of the accuracy of figures, the disparity is great. That’s a lot of jobs that aren’t good – that don’t necessarily support workers making meaningful
So how do we close this gap? Bill Shorten beat the drum on leadership. Employers need to provide leadership in job redesign and support the working lives of employees. Training and employment needs to be integrated to increase employability.
“The best companies and leaders are the builders, not the wreckers’.
- Work provides meaning. How will you replace it when you’re not working?
- How are you improving your employability? What development and training are you undertaking?
- What ideas do you have for your employer to create more ‘good jobs’ so you can keep working – but perhaps not the way you’re working now?
Maybe I’ll leave the last word to the voice of Darth Vader, actor James Earl Jones. No, he wasn’t at the CEDA forum, but he was on ABC radio talking about his
upcoming visit to Australia with the stage version of ‘Driving Miss Daisy’. He was asked, ” Why at the age of 82, do you still work?”
“I don’t know how to do anything else….I don’t see the point in stopping…What’s the point of retiring? I may as well stay on the job and try to do it better.”
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The past 2 days have been well spent Chairing the Tonkin ageing workforce conference in Sydney. The forum attracted a diverse range of delegates from industries such as health and aged care, Federal and Local Government, insurance, FMCG and utilities, demonstrating how far reaching the ageing workforce issue has become.Whilst the challenges and specific priority areas for each organisation differed, on one front they were united.
Doing nothing is not an option!
A range of great speakers across the 2 days shared the steps that they have boldly taken to engage and retain their mature workforce.
Some pearls from Kate McCormack, Executive Director, People Learning & Culture at Mercy Health included;
We are training our managers that the default answer when it comes to flexible work requests is YES. They have to then find a very good reason why not, if there is one!
Juliet Andrews People and Organisation, Ernst & Young provided an overview of the robust Work Ability model, derived from The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and currently being adapted for the Australian workplace. The essence of Work Ability is this – a holistic and self managed approach to wellbeing at work proactively manages productivity, health and safety, culture and engagement, and costs related to absenteeism and claims. Whilst the framework is applicable across ‘all ages all stages’, productivity gains amongst mature workers are evident.
Delegates enjoyed the journey of ‘The Fox’ – a presentation by Michelle Joy, OD Manager with Linfox. A creative and age neutral approach to learning for all employees across the organisation, regardless of role or location gave us all some food for thought.
Rowan Arndt, NAB’s Head of Diversity and Inclusion, opted for a highly interactive discussion with participants, sharing the critical success factors and learnings behind NAB’s award winning MyFuture program. These included;
- developing a sound business case upfront
- engaging executive champions and people leaders
- measuring results which to date includes 27% of mature employees who have participated in MyFuture subsequently moving to a flexible work arrangement (with those working flexibly found to be 30% more engaged) and people leaders putting practical knowledge sharing initiatives in place. NAB has also shifted the average retirement age out from 57 in 2009 to 60 in 2012 – a remarkable achievement over a relatively short timeframe
The MyFuture program forms one part of NAB’s overall diversity strategy which is underpinned by the saying;
I see you for you
IAG’s CEO Mike Wilkins is mentioned in our previous blog post, having resided on the executive panel at last week’s Older Workers and Business Growth forum convened by The Hon. Susan Ryan, Age Discrimination Commissioner. IAG’s Group GM of People & Culture, Steve Rowe, reiterated some of Mike’s passion and key messages regarding engaging and retaining mature talent and cited the importance of not losing critical knowledge and experience when a key person retires. Steve’s focus going forward is on ensuring IAG is a place where ‘diversity of thought’ is embraced and encouraged.
We were even fortunate to hear from a real life ‘sage’ – the wonderful Peter Gillman, a 40-year engineer with Sydney Water. Peter has spent the past few years as a champion of the organisation’s knowledge transfer project,which focusses on their ‘technically influential group’. Peter shared the steps taken as these;
- find out who wants to know what
- identify what is tacit and what is explicit
- make the knowledge easily accessible
- keep the knowledge accurate and current
- have a community of practice working on it so that ‘all the eggs are not in one basket’
- measure the value of the knowledge
- connect the project with other internal initiative
We loved this quote from Peter;
I know more than I can tell; I can tell more than I can write”
We are all responsible for creating the future workforce that we ourselves will move into. How do we want it to look when we get there? As summarised by Rowan, this means creating a workplace where “people feel safe and respected for who they are. They can pursue a career with us as long as they can make a contribution no matter where that might be. NAB will be a magnet employer”.
Each delegate went away armed with ideas and practical actions to implement within their own organisation.
A small step can indeed create a giant leap, in the words of the great, late Neil Armstrong.
Susan Ryan and her team in the Age Discrimination Commission hosted a comprehensive and enlightening forum on Older Workers and Business Growth on Monday 3 September in Sydney.
Treasurer Wayne Swan beat the drum for older workers to have choices in how they participate in the workforce.
Harnessing the energy and the possibilities of the mature workforce will require collaboration between government and industry.
Shadow Minister for Seniors, Bronwyn Bishop looking resplendent in her age defying red heels (and I do mean heels) demanded that we retire the word retirement and simply talk about the age at which you have access to a pension and/or superannuation. Ms Bishop also raised the notion of what the impact of more 55+ workers with a disposable income would do to retail figures. And she took the opportunity to remind us of her work on ‘Silver to Platinum’ – as opposed to the recent Turning Grey to Gold report. Whatever the colour, it’s the transition that’s important!
Chris Richardson (Deloitte Access Economics) and Professor John Piggott (UNSW) provided compelling statistics to support the economic case for increasing mature age employment.
Love the one you’re with.(Chris Richardson when referring to engaging and retaining the mature workers already in your organisation)
Best way to be employed…is to stay employed.” (Professor John Piggott)
Some big C-level corporate names including Katie Lahey (KornFerry), Ann Sherry (Carnival), Michael Wilkins(IAG), John Gillam (Bunnings) and Andrew Stevens (IBM) shared candidly about the business case for older workers. Refreshingly, they spoke of the importance of reflecting the communities and consumers they serve. With this in mind, it is a ‘no brainer’ to employ older workers. Some of our favourite quotes were:
When you THINK differently about work, you attract diversity. Great businesses make work work for great people.” (Ann Sherry)
Good judgement is the invisible benefit when you hire a mature worker.” (Ann Sherry)
Our team is our business. We need diversity to mirror the customer and the community in which we operate.” (John Gillam)
Listed companies are being asked to discuss more than financial results. We are seeing more pressure to disclose diversity performance and as a result will feel the benefit.” (Mike Wilkins)
On the importance of knowledge transfer, Andrew Stevens commented that “things that happened 20-30 years ago are coming around again.” Older workers are the only ones who have the necessary context.
In the Bunnings workforce of 30 000 staff, 7700 are aged 50+ (26%) and out of that number, seven are over 80.
“Mature workers tend to have more empathy, patience, life knowledge and are able to exchange knowledge with younger workers. The pros far outweigh the cons.” (John Gillam)
A distinguished panel comprising the Business Council of Australia, Australian Council of Social Service, Australian Council of Trade Unions and Deloitte discussed the barriers to increasing mature age employment. There was a strong sentiment that generational stereotype labels were particularly unhelpful as well as lack of access to training and re-training.
It is time to move from managing diversity to embracing difference. (Juliet Bourke, Deloitte)
All attendees spent time in industry based groups vigorously discussing how their organisations were already supporting older workers and what else needed to be done. If you’re looking for inspiration and strategy input, the complete list is available here.
For us at Sageco it was an inspirational and heartening day. We were honoured to participate and assist with facilitation. When we opened up shop eight years ago, you might have been hard pressed to find one CEO who could talk candidly about their approach to older workers. They were in abundance on Monday. And we’re noticing the evolution in thinking from problem to opportunity. This is really about supporting employees to transition from one life stage to the next and to ensure that they have choices about how and when and where they work. The abiding themes of respect for the individual and the importance of having conversations that matter were there.
There are a lot of good news stories. Many felt that the role of government was to build on the good news and sound practice – to fan the flames and step back. Retaining and employing older workers simply does make good business sense.