Happy workers: How satisfied are Australians at work?


mwah. and Curtin University are excited to share the Happy workers: How satisfied are Australians at work? report.

"This research is first of its kind in Australia and looks at what makes us happy at work. Is it what we do? Is it the way we work? Who we work with? Our actual occupation? The industry we work in? How much does pay and security matter? Is business size important?  

Some really interesting myths busted!"

Interesting in knowing more? Easy – just click here to access the report.

Future of Work in Australia: Preparing for Tomorrow’s World (BCEC Report)


This Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre Report "examines the way in which the organisation of work is changing – from workforces to workplaces – and the implications of these changes for Australia.

The organisation of work is changing. With alternative forms of employment, freelancing and the gig economy on the rise, the traditional notion of holding down a steady job or two for an entire career is receding fast.

And as new technologies and automation take over some of the tasks previously performed by human labour, and industries move offshore, the service sector continues to forge ahead as the major player in the future of work.

But are we placing too much emphasis on technology and not enough on the quality of jobs that we should strive to create in the workplaces of the future?

Is now the time for workers to return to education and begin re-skilling? What kinds of careers can our children expect and where should they focus their education?"

To read the report click here.

How Flexible Work Supports 7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals


This article was written by Robert Hawkins for our friends at 1 Million for Work Flexibility.

Flexible work continues to spread and grow, driven largely by the voices of parents (especially mothers) who no longer feel they should have to choose between caring for their family and having a fulfilling career.

But flexibility doesn’t just benefit working mothers; in fact, it has incredible, real benefits for all people who work, their families, and the world around us. To demonstrate, this article takes a novel approach and outlines the ways flexibility—specifically remote working, or the ability to regularly work away from the centralized workplace—supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).

These 17 Goals, created by the United Nations Development Program and adopted in 2015 by 193 countries, are “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.”

Flexible work supports seven of the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

It can also be rolled out quickly and cheaply, and provides an attractive method to boost the success of the SDGs. This is particularly important now as the latest UN progress report has found there is a high risk that many of the SDGs will not be reached by their target date of 2030.

Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.

Generally, flexible working gives people more time and energy to focus on their diet, exercise, relationships, leisure, and passions—all drivers of a healthy body and mind.

But within this Goal there is also a specific Target (3.6) that aims to halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents. Globally, approximately 1.25 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes, and many more are injured.

One powerful way we can reduce accident rates is simply to drive less. Studies show that vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) are directly related to accident occurrences. There is a strong correlation between VKT and road fatalities in 53 high-income countries and U.S. (data from this report).

Commuting to work accounts for over a quarter of kilometres travelled in passenger vehicles; hence, if more people worked remotely more often, VKT would be reduced considerably (especially during busy periods), resulting in a direct reduction in accidents and deaths.

Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

Flexible working, and the changes to management styles required to enable flexible (including remote) working (such as measuring output rather than time spent in the office), are strong drivers for gender equality both at home and in the workplace.

Target 5.4 is specifically about promoting shared responsibility within the household. Purely by avoiding the commute, the average worker saves 53 minutes per day. A man who works flexibly would then have more time and energy to share in household responsibilities. On top of that, having more time at home exposes them to the true requirements of household management (surprisingly, more than just taking out the trash and sweeping floors), thus helping to shift perceptions about responsibilities at home.

Women who work remotely benefit from this extra time not commuting because it can be translated to more sleep, personal activities, exercise, and anything else that adds to their health and wellbeing. Avoiding the daily commute also reduces anxiety and increases overall life satisfaction, undoubtedly one of the main purposes of this Goal.

Another Target (5.b) aims to empower women through the use of information and communications technology. The ability to work from anywhere with the use of technology allows women to integrate work and life, and manage them holistically. Rather than having to push one aside for the other, women are empowered to succeed at both. Tellingly, Sara Sutton, founder and CEO of FlexJobs, found that companies with mostly or entirely remote workforces had significantly more women in leadership roles compared to S&P 500 companies.

Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Target 7.3 has the aim of doubling the global rate of improvement in energy efficiency. Working remotely is one of those ‘unsexy’ yet highly effective methods for improving energy efficiency by simply using less.

Transport accounts for a large percentage of overall energy use (29% in the U.S.), so simply eliminating a major portion of our travel needs by not driving to the office every day can have a significant impact on the world’s energy efficiency. If we could, for example, work from home two or three days a week, this would decrease our total travel requirements by 10–15%—a huge gain in efficiency compared to even the most advanced changes to technology.

Additionally, flexible working increases efficiencies in building energy. Employees are in control of their energy use at home with regards to climate control, lighting, and other electronics; and they have a greater onus (they pay for it!) to decrease its use, so they do.

Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth; full and productive employment; and decent work for all.

Target 8.2 concerns increasing economic productivity through innovation and technology. Remote working contributes to this Target in two major areas:

Traffic congestion costs hundreds of billions of dollars in avoidable losses to commuters and businesses around the world. Working remotely (or even varying start and finish times) can have a significant effect on congestion by decreasing traffic volume in peak hours: it only takes a 5% decrease in traffic to increase travel speeds on congested roads by 50%. This is one of the most powerful benefits of working remotely, as there is no easier or more effective method for reducing traffic congestion than simply reducing the number of cars on the road. Lower congestion also improves the reliability of public transport (bus) systems, the aim of Target 11.2.

Secondly, disengaged and distracted workers present massive productivity losses and opportunity costs to businesses. In the US alone, actively disengaged workers cost business over $450 billion per year, and distractions cost an estimated $588 billion per year.

Worker engagement has been shown to increase with flexible and remote workforces, by up to 25% with only one day working from home. Reasons include an increased feeling of autonomy and independence, and having higher-quality connections with co-workers when back in the office. Higher engagement leads to decreases in sick days, turnover, mistakes, and safety incidences; which in turn contribute to higher profits.

This controlled study by the NBER also shows flexible and remote workers being 9-22% more productive than their in-office counterparts. People were less distracted and could just focus on getting their work done.

Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

The aim of Target 11.1 is to ensure people have access to safe and affordable housing. In Australia, for example, the younger generation is facing a much more difficult task of breaking into the housing market than previous generations. Working remotely eases the need to live close to city centers and allows options for housing locations that are further from the office and much more affordable.

Another Target (11.a) seeks to strengthen links between urban and rural areas for the benefit of both. As in 11.1 above, if a well-paid professional could work remotely, they could live in a regional town for the relaxed lifestyle, and this would help to expose that regional town to different avenues of wealth and mentorship; especially valuable for young people who are developing personal and professional interests.

Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.

Target 12.6 encourages companies to adopt sustainable practices. The average business would save about $11,000 per employee who works remotely part-time; but this figure could be much higher when considering the hard-to-measure savings associated with higher quality of work and more ‘a-ha! million-dollar-ideas’ from highly engaged employees. Translated to multiple workers—think of a company with hundreds or thousands of people who don’t need to be in the office every day—and you’re looking at big bucks. The businesses that trial and then roll out flexibility, and see the environmental and bottom-line benefits, serve as important case studies and encouragement for others to adopt this sustainable practice.

Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Target 13.2 asks nations to tackle climate change with policies, strategies, and planning. As stated in Target 7.3 above, working remotely two or three days a week can reduce a person’s total travel needs by 10­–15%, thereby reducing carbon emissions by exactly that amount. The more people who are able to eliminate unnecessary travel through combined, national efforts to increase flexibility in the workplace, the more likely it will be that we achieve the Paris climate goal. (Presently, there is only a 5% chance that we will.)

There is also the added benefit of remote workers being able to continue working through major weather events, such as floods, snow storms, and heat waves. This adds resilience to the economy and decreases risks to individuals even if disasters continue to increase due to climate change.

It just makes sense

Any potential issues that may arise from implementing flexible (and remote) work can be minimized or eliminated with a strategic program and training, and are outweighed by the broad and deep benefits as shown here. As such, it should be considered both a serious business strategy and a way to help the UN in its mission to “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.”

From a Sailboat?


“All roles flex”, “Work from anywhere”. A tad too ambitious maybe? Will the day ever come when I can flip up my laptop, put in a day’s work from my sailboat and my boss won’t think I’m taking the ....? Because let’s face it, that’s the dream.

It’s such a conundrum. Work for myself, most likely pay myself zero, all the flexibility in the world. Work for someone else, with the comfort of financial security, but must be within eyesight at all time… and instantly feel guilty if I’m running 15 minutes late for work!

Now obviously I’m generalising and there are certainly companies out there advocating for flexible working, walking the talk, implementing new initiatives, striving for outputs over attendance, but even to those of you in this bucket I ask, “If I delivered on my outputs to the highest of standards, but from a sailboat in the Mediterranean, would that be okay?” Could be wrong, but I doubt it.

And why not? Is it a lack of trust or belief in my capability? Is it because you don’t have a yacht and therefore I shouldn’t work from mine? Is it because of some outdated ergonomics policy that puts it in the “too hard” basket? Is it because, “It’s just not the done thing”? All of which seem like inadequate responses to me.

In this age of productivity, continuous improvement, cost cutting and doing more with less, I challenge you, “Why can’t I work from anywhere I like?”

A recent survey shows the vast majority of employees would be happy to take less money for added flexibility and it’s not gender specific. We have but one life to get out there, to see the world, to experience everything on offer, to watch our children learn and grow (in more than 4 weeks of annual leave).  With mental health issues on the rise and our lives so full of information we can never switch off isn’t it time for something radical before we all turn into robots…..or are replaced by them?

I heard someone speak the other day about his dream to utilise technology to a point where the office could be removed, all 100 staff could work remotely and employees would bid for work. A job board where, if you’ve got some time today you can put your hand up for the work, but if you’re busy (lunching in Portofino) you can take the day off. Turning the office into a freelancer marketplace that would mean reduced overheads for the company, no rent, only paying staff when they’re utilised, most likely paying them less for the added flexibility they’re afforded.

Not 100% sure I agree with the last part – if I’m doing the same job, pay me the same money, but would I work for less if you let me work from my sailboat? Absolutely!

Click here to read the full article by Meg Burrage.

Having a flexible approach to work – do the benefits outweigh challenges?


A flexible approach to work is now commonplace in many workplaces, not just for the chosen lucky few, but for all. A vast majority of roles can now be worked flex. But many organisations and leaders still struggle to normalise flexible work fearing that too much flexibility will lead to lost productivity and chaos in their teams. How can the benefits of flexible work outweigh the challenges, here’s how we’re making it work at Parents At Work.  

We’re a small business, there’s less than 10 of us supporting thousands of busy working parents everyday. If one person is sick, on leave or not working on a particular given day, like any small team, we feel it.  However, it’s our flexible attitude to work that’s allowed us and the business to thrive.  We’ve built and fostered a culture that means our flexible approach to work actually helps our business to grow and be agile to change. And boy are we uber productive. Every member of the team has their own way of working it.

For more, read the full article here: https://parentsandcarersatwork.com/having-a-flexible-approach-to-work-do-the-benefits-outweigh-challenges/

The seven most inviting co-working spaces around the world

Photo: Tahoe Mountain Lab

Photo: Tahoe Mountain Lab

The following article was written by Pauline Morrissey, and first published by Commercial Real Estate.

"With the rise of freelancing, the gig economy, flexible working and startup enterprises over recent years, we have also seen a rise in the quantity and quality of coworking spaces.

Gone are the days where free coffee, a giant bean bag, and a ping pong table would be enough to tempt the independent worker away from a stuffy home office.  These days, coworking space operators have either needed to go beautiful, with impeccably designed environments, or go unique, offering a work space with that little extra flair.

From sailing ships to the ski slopes, these are some of the unique and unconventional spaces where digital nomads are settling in for their work day. You might even ask – are they working hard or hardly working?"  Click here to read the full article and see the amazing photos!.

It’s time to Flex: Embrace flexible working or flounder in the future

The following article was first published in the Diversity Council Australia.  

An extensive body of research demonstrates the business benefits of flexible working, and yet flexible work and careers are not mainstreamed in most Australian workplaces and seem only to be available to a select few. In the face of globalisation, technology advancements and demographic shifts, Diversity Council Australia believes organisations need to rethink their approach to flexibility.

Lisa Annese, DCA’s CEO, said organisations need to stop tinkering around the edges of flexible working or they will be left behind.

“The World Economic Forum predicts that we are on the cusp of a ‘fourth industrial revolution’.  Technological, socio-economic and demographic shifts are transforming the way we work, demanding flexibility in the way individuals, teams and organisations work. We need to grasp the opportunity to be more creative and innovative when it comes to work design.

“Our members repeatedly request guidance on how they can build leaders’ ability to (re)design work and jobs. This is a critical obstacle to mainstreaming flexibility in their workplaces and experiencing the associated business benefits,” said Lisa.

DCA’s new research project, Future-Flex, seeks to challenge and change mindsets and outdated assumptions about the nature of work, the ‘ideal’ worker (who is full time with no responsibilities outside of work), and what drives performance and productivity in organisations.

Future-Flex gives organisations the tools to mainstream flexibility by looking at work design with the team, and the whole organisation, in mind rather than coming up with ad-hoc arrangements,” said Lisa.

“Those organisations that fail to adopt a different approach to flexible work will be unable to experience the benefits or meet future challenges – and that’s not good for anyone,” added Lisa.

What is driving change?

  • Employees. The demands and expectations of today’s diverse, multi-generational, mobile workforce are transforming where, when and how we work. In Australia, more mothers with children are employed than ever before and dual-earner families are commonplace, with 63% of two parent families with dependent children having both parents employed.  Workforce participation rates of older workers are rising.  All these employee segments seek flexible work and this demand is only likely to increase in the future.
  • Globalisation. Globalisation, the development of a 24/7 marketplace, and the rapid expansion of the services economy are also having a transformational effect on the workplace, requiring organisations to think creatively about how they can best organise jobs and work to respond to an increasingly diverse and demanding consumer/client base. Companies are increasingly working across time zones and with global virtual teams.
  • Technology. Technology is both a driver and an enabler of flexibility. Technology has dramatically reshaped workplaces, blurring the boundaries between work and home and diversifying where, when and how employees work. Advances in mobile, internet and cloud technologies, the rapid development of computing power, the computerised connection of multiple objects, and the increasing relevance of Big Data have all driven workplace innovations such as remote working, telecommuting, co-working spaces, video/teleconferencing, and virtual teams and collaboration. 
  • Culture. Like technology, organisational culture is both a driver and an enabler of flexibility, arguably the most critical of all enablers. Building a culture of future-focused flexibility requires a sustained strategic change approach that is structured around business goals and outcomes and is supported at the highest levels of an organisation.

How should workplaces respond?

DCA has developed new Future-Flex tools to build flexible teams, jobs and organisations, with a specific focus on retail environments. The tools were developed following a review of international and national industry and academic literature about workplace flexibility and the future of work; interviews and liaison with staff working in a retail environment; and our own extensive experience assisting workforces make flexible work and flexible careers standard business practice.

Future-Flex creates organisations in which employees can access flexibility for all roles, for any reason, and can have successful engaged careers. This new approach:

  • Starts with the Team. More than just accommodating an individual’s needs, Future-Flex is about re-designing work at a team or whole of organisation level. Employees are key partners in developing team?based flexibility solutions that work.
  • Treats Flexibility as a Business-Tool. Future-Flex emphasises the goals of both the organisation and its employees. It focuses on flexible work that boosts the performance and wellbeing of organisations, teams and individuals. Meeting business goals in areas such as customer service, innovation, growth and efficiency is central to Future-Flex.
  • Considers Culture. Future-Flex recognises that organisational and team cultures are critical to the success of workplaces where employees can access flexibility for all roles and for any reason, and can have successful, engaged careers.
  • Challenges Bias. Shifting to a Future-Flex mindset involves being aware of our own biases – conscious and unconscious. Many people make assumptions about what it means to be a flexible worker (e.g. about people’s career aspirations, interest in training and development, levels of commitment to the organisation etc.) Future-Flex tools explore and challenge these biases.

Future-Flex tools help organisations make flexibility a mainstream element of their workplace. Access the Synopsis Report, full report and additional resources here

Future-Flex is a partnership initiative between DCA, the Retail Council, National Australia Bank, Allens, IBM, BAE Systems Australia and IAG, which generates practical guidance for managers, teams and individuals on how to implement and mainstream workplace flexibility through work design.

Does your definition of equality include people with disability?

not used - park.jpg

"There’s a lot of chatter on various different social media platforms about ‘equality’. Generally, equality is defined as equal opportunity for women, LGBTI, cultural or religious groups. Strong advocacy and decades of organising have given these groups a voice, and raised awareness of the issues. People still rage against inequality, rightfully so, and talk of the glass ceiling, and lobby for better work opportunities.

But do a google search on the term ‘disability employment policy private sector Australia’, and for the first ten pages of results you’ll find two things; government diversity policies – necessitated by Australia’s signature on the United Nations Covenant on Human Rights, and supported employment providers in Australia.

Ironically, those with the strongest policies on disability employment – the public sector – seem to be losing the ability to employ people with disability, with Australian Government employment statistics showing a dismal participation rate, which has dropped alarmingly in the last decade.

But, back to the search engine - it’s not until the tenth Google results page or later that you’ll find some of our more progressive Australian private sector employers with specific inclusion strategies for people with disability.

While diversity policies exist in the private sector, the definition of ‘diversity’ is often vague, and acknowledges the minority groups with strong lobbying activists, LGBTI, multicultural and religious groups.

Disability is sometimes missing entirely.  Why is that?"

To learn more read the article from our friends at Enabled Employment, click here.

Changing the narrative of work for Australians with a disability, one job at a time

 "If 4.2 million Australians have a disability, as recorded by the Australian Bureau of Statistics[1] in 2015, why is our image and definition of a person with a disability still centred around what they can’t do, rather than what we can do?  Why do we think of disability in a narrow, deficit focussed way?

Job sharing, flexible work hours, flexible working arrangements, results only work environments and awareness training for co-workers are all part of a reasonable adjustment definition that we think needs implementing in the majority of workplaces in Australia, not only for people with a disability, but parents, carers, and remotely located communities."

To read more from our friends at Enabled Employment click here.

Mind the Gap – How Recruiters are Still Searching for the Ideal Worker

ideal worker 2.jpg

"There is a great contradiction. More and more companies embrace Diversity and Inclusion, as it makes absolute business sense. But are they able to reach out to diverse talent, and more importantly, are people with interesting life stories able to secure an interview?

How do you explain the 2 years break you took to look after your child? Or the other time-out for caring for an ill parent or relative? Well, there are websites helping you to fill the gaps in your CV with a variety of tricks and tips, some useful, some downright fraud, like writing in key-words in white ink into your CV to trick the software screening it. 

We are not used to gaps in the 21st century. Every minute is utilised to check on e-mails, to send out tweets, to connect on social media, to show we are always on, always working and present. And this in turn suits perfectly highly motivated individuals geared towards achieving great careers, but if you have family obligations, have an important hobby or want to continue education, or as a matter of fact would like to embrace a more spiritual, less outwardly way of life – well, it won’t bode well for your next career move."

Click here to read the article by our friends at The WorkLifeHUB.

Where policies end – culture begins?

"Imagine waking up, having breakfast with your family or going for a run. Then you work a couple of hours in your office at home. You have arranged a lunch-meeting with your boss, after which you spend some time collaborating with your team. In the afternoon you have an appointment with your mothers’ doctor, all is well. You have a couple of phone calls with oversees colleagues or partners. Home for dinner, and preparing a presentation for your up-coming key-note.

Nobody asks you where you are. Nobody makes sarcastic comments about your day. You know of your children’s progress and also are reassured about your mom’s health. Does this sound like heaven?"

Click here to read the article by our friends at The WorkLifeHUB. 

Going digital? Then you better go human too!

"AI. Smart machines. Big Data. People Analytics. If you are in HR, or reading the main thought leaders on the evolution of HR, you surely come across these terms more and more often. In an attempt to reconcile two major, parallel trends in HR and people management, here is our take on how organisations can excel at both."

Click here to read the article by our friends at The WorkLife Hub. 

Managing Different Generations in the Workforce

"Recently the workforce has welcomed a new generation into the family; with the first lot of "Generation Z” entering the working world for the first-time last year and more than a third of British workers expected to be over 50 by 2020, 2017 is set to see an increasingly changing professional landscape."

Our friends at the The WorkLife HUB examine what goes into managing different generations in the workplace...  Click here to read the article.

White Paper: Why Every Organisation Needs a Work-Life Integration Manager?

"In this White Paper we explain key trends in the New World of Work and why work-life integration is becoming more important than ever. With a foot in the world of research and the other working with companies, we are confident that we are bringing you state of the art insight about the issue, based on the latest studies and inspired by the most forward-thinking companies."

Click here to download the White Paper written by our friends at TheWorkLife HUB.

The Future of Work Reimagined

"The number of “thought-leaders”, futurists, speakers, and major consultancies bombarding us with information about the future of work is increasing. Since work makes up such a huge part of our lives, it is a fascinating subject. The convergence of a number of mega-trends and exponential innovation are propelling us ever faster towards a Brave New World of Work."

Click here to read the article by our friends at TheWorkLife HUB.