FlexWorkFullLife

From a Sailboat?

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“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 Is it because of some outdated ergonomics policy that puts it in the “too hard” basket?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.

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.