Times are a-changin’ and the traditional office environment continues to modernise through technology. Gone are the clunky beigey-grey desktop computers running Windows XP or those bulky desk phones that had those little flashing lights to let you know which lines were taken from my law firm receptionist days. These days, I have a laptop and my desk phone can be diverted to my mobile at the click of a button making it easy for me to work from virtually anywhere.
Technology affords us with opportunities to work from home when necessary. And, now more than ever, we’re seeing more and more employers offering flexible working arrangements to their employees. Reasons for accessing these arrangements can vary – eg. achieving a work/life balance, health reasons or caring for kids.
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Personally, I work flexibly to alleviate the pressure in juggling my parental responsibilities. I have a set day a week where I work from home and between emails and phone calls, I’ll put on and hang up a load of washing and I’ll meal prep for dinner when getting my own lunch ready. Not having to get ready for and travel to and from the office saves me a lot of time and takes the pressure off. I drop the kids off at day care in the morning and walk back home to start my work day in a relaxed fashion.
If you’re considering accessing flexible working arrangements, here are the things you should consider before proposing it with your employer:
In Australia, an employee can request a change in their working arrangements from their employer if they require flexibility for a multitude of reasons, including for health reasons, being aged 55 or older, or being a parent or carer of a child who is school age or younger.
Your employer doesn’t have to grant your request but they can only refuse it on legitimate business grounds and they must outline their reasons in writing. The Fair Work Ombudsman encourages a compromise if employers can’t grant a request on its initial terms.
Next, it’s worthwhile considering how your workplace would respond to a request to work flexibly including:
- whether your workplace supports flexibility
- whether any of your colleagues work flexibly and what their reasons are for accessing these arrangements
It might be helpful to have a chat with your colleagues to get their perspective and gain an understanding of the existing arrangements in place.
Before deciding on the type of flexible working arrangement that you would like, it is crucial to think about your role:
- Are you able to work productively away from the office?
- Do you have a comfortable place to work from home?
- Will your proposed arrangements have an impact on whether your colleagues/clients can contact you?
- Will you still have access to the same tools and resources that you typically do when working in the office?
If you’re working as part of a team, it is necessary to consider how your proposed arrangements will affect those dynamics including:
- how it could impact your team members – if managing a team, will you still be able to delegate and manage tasks?
- whether there are any tasks that will be affected as a result of not being in the office
If you can tailor your own bespoke flexible working arrangement, it can be a real game changer. And flexibility is just that – it allows you to come up with your own parameters.