Eva Lloyd, Lecturer Faculty of Built Environment
Flexible Work Starts with a Conversation
“Working remotely has allowed me to maximise time with my young family and work more effectively.”
Eva has a full-time education-focussed role and teaches 2 days a week on campus. Eva approached working flexibly after accepting the role with UNSW. To begin with, she had an open conversation with her Director, and she explained the mutual benefits of having a shared flexible working arrangement. It was agreed that a portion of Eva’s teaching role could be shared, and Eva could work from home. She was happy to know that if she had urgent caring responsibilities someone else would be available to lecture.
“We have 2 young children and if my partner or a grandparent can’t step in when I’m teaching and our children are sick, there are two tutors equipped to manage the role of convener for the day. I also find working from home gives me the uninterrupted headspace to focus.”
The integration of flexible work relies on supportive managers who are willing to be open to different ways of working. “My director is a strong role model of flexible work. We agreed on specific flexible working protocols to support the change to my role, which included timely response to emails. “I am fully contactable via email, phone and will attend meetings virtually when required.”
Patrick Armstrong, Internal Communications
Managers Can Make Flex Work
“People who have the flexibility to suit their family and other commitments, are more engaged and productive.”
In his team, Patrick Armstrong manages four people who work flexibly. Two of his team are in a job share role – where one person works 3 days per week, and the other works two days. The job share partnership has been beneficial, as both employees come from very different backgrounds, and yet their complementary skills allow them to perform their role very effectively. Pat’s other team members have flexible return to work arrangements following parental leave and work part-time. The rest of his team, including Pat, work flexibly on an ad hoc basis as needed.
“My team have an output-focused team culture, meaning the emphasis is on the performance of the individual, not presence in the office.”
Pat shares some advice for managers considering a request to work flexibly. “Be an active listener and have empathy for their request and situation. This may mean putting aside your own biases.” Flexible work arrangement is a mutual agreement between an employee and business. While a request for flexible working suits the needs of an employee, it must also work for the business and the role requirements. “I have made it work for my team and have learnt that regular check-ins and conversations are vital for flexible working to be successful for a team. I also make sure remote workers are included in meetings and have the capability to access technologies such as Microsoft Teams, VPN and OneDrive.”
Dr Archana Voola, Research Fellow, Centre for Social Impact
Flexible Work banks on Open Communication
Archana co-designed her flexible work arrangement with the co-director at the Centre for Social Impact (CSI) to have varied start and finish times. “I work Monday - Friday from 6am-2pm and work from home on Wednesdays.” Archana knows she is more productive in the mornings and can avoid commuting to work in peak hour. She is flexible in her week and will vary her core hours or change the day she works from home to meet manage her work requirements.
“Working flexibly allows me to fulfil my personal commitments and in turn, makes me appreciate my workplace, work relationships and work outcomes.”
There are some challenges with working flexibly. “It can be difficult when stakeholders are unfamiliar with my core work hours. Or, when there is an urgent deadline. Archana relies on frequent and open communication to make it work. “My stakeholders are very understanding - once they know how I work. Often, my team will move an internal deadline forward to ensure our client’s expectations are met and I can be in the office.”