Why we need to be more flexible about flexibility
Last month I had the honour of listening to the newly appointed Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand of Aurecon, Louise Adams, speak about workplace flexibility at the “5 Years of Gender Reporting in Australia” roadshow.
The event was hosted by the British Chamber of Commerce and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and while there were many fantastic messages and insights into the gender pay gap, representation of women in leadership and industry performance, it was a notion presented by Louise that truly struck me.
Louise said that at Aurecon, if an employee asks for flexible working conditions, they do not ask why.
It’s such a simple notion isn’t it.
Standard practice in corporate Australia is to seek clarification for why an employee wants time off before reviewing the request. It’s one thing for businesses to promote workplace flexibility, but it’s another level entirely to actually follow through on the essence of what flexibility actually means.
Why does it matter why someone asks for flexible work?
Whether a person is away for three hours in the morning to take their child to school, go to counselling or to simply sleep in has no impact on the business. The employer just needs to know if the business can manage with the employee not being there for that timeframe.
I can’t believe how many things we let unfold in front of us, because its always been done that way.
It may be such a simple and small concept but it’s a grand gesture for Aurecon to take this move officially.
It allows individuals to manage their mental and physical health in the way that suits them best. Some of us are geniuses in the morning, but lose the ability to string a sentence together after 3pm. Others need to get to healthcare appointments in business hours and can’t do this without some time away from the office.
As long as the work gets done, customers and clients are responded to timely and business operations can continue, then flexible work should be encouraged. Just take a look at the stats found by a Victorian Government research program showing the benefits to both employees and the business. There are huge bottom line savings to be made at a corporate level, and productivity and morale enhancement for employees.
Aurecon has set the benchmark. Let’s hope the industry follows suit.