Flexible Work

Let's do lunch

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This blog is written by Martha Lourey-Bird, exercise scientist.

And by ‘do’ I mean actually making the effort to take a break on workdays, to enjoy a healthy lunch. When was the last time you did that? While it might not sound like anything particularly special or out of the ordinary, statistics suggest the opposite is true. In fact, while 44 per cent of Australians continue to work while they eat their lunch, more than one in four of us are skipping it altogether.

According to the researchers behind those statistics, a number of things are responsible, and while the main excuse given is ‘being too busy’, another reason is that a workplace’s culture might be such that skipping lunch has become the norm.

It’s unfortunate because when people do take a break for lunch, the majority say they concentrate better and are more productive when they return. They also report enjoying their job more, and feeling less stressed out by it. That’s got to be good, right?

I know myself how challenging it can be on those crazy busy days to set aside a little bit of time for lunch. But, as well as providing a chance to eat your midday meal mindfully rather than distractedly, taking a break from work for lunch can also provide an opportunity to squeeze some activity into your day.

I’m not suggesting you have to hit the gym at midday or get so sweaty that you’ll need a shower afterwards (although if that does suit your lifestyle and your schedule, go for it!). Just heading outside for a short walk to a nearby green space will do the trick. Make sure your lunch is portable and you can take it with you and eat it amongst that greenery, when you get there. You can find more active lunch break inspiration, as well as learn more about why it’s such a healthy thing to strive for, here.

The fact is, having flexibility in the workplace can make it easier to fit activity into, or around, your work commitments, as well as providing the freedom to take the sort of lunch break that works best for you. Not sure what a flexible workplace is exactly, why they’re so beneficial or how to go about finding or establishing one? You can read more about that, here, or head to flexibleworkingday.com.

Flexible Working Day is an international day that provides an opportunity to celebrate and showcase the benefits of flexible work for both people and organisations, as well as marking a call to action to tackle flexism. It’s taking place on Wednesday, June 6, and I’m excited to be an Ambassador for this year’s event.

There are so many reasons why I personally support and encourage flexible working environments, and it’s true that different people require flexibility in different facets of their working life. But why not make a start this week by dedicating a little more thought, love and care to your midday meal breaks? You might just discover that it’s a small change that can pack a really big punch at lunch.

Martha's website can be accessed here.

Flex – because life brings curve balls

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The following article is authored by Tracy Hocking, Digital Content and Social Media Advisor, DCA.

When I joined the DCA team a few years ago I simply viewed the flexible working arrangements available as a pleasant bonus. My kids were older and reasonably independent and there were no other family members who were in need of my special care or attention. Consequently, I wasn’t looking for a job with flexibility. I didn’t think I needed it.
However, the benefits of the working from home a few days a week and being able to take time out in the middle of the day to deal with a personal or domestic matter quickly became apparent.

Simply not needing to do the one hour commute each way every day gave me the precious gift of time, which I sometimes kept for myself and the family, but also chose to give back some days, by starting and finishing work at the times I would normally begin and end travelling to the office.

Stress levels were down and energy up. I believe I became a better parent, partner, friend and
employee as a result.

Yet, the real benefits of flexible working emerged following unexpected results from some medical tests last year. In December 2017 I underwent major brain surgery on a growing tumour. I needed completely rest for several weeks, was unable to drive for months and told to limit personal interactions as this could put an added stress on a brain recovering from the trauma I had undergone during the eight+ hour procedure.

Six weeks post-op I had the all clear to ease my way back into work. Working from home a few hours each day was the recommendation. Could that be arranged? Absolutely!! I was already set up for this. There was no added stress created by the need to implement new systems, strategies or equipment. It was all there and ready to go. Coming back to work in this way was the best rehab I could have asked for, physically, mentally and emotionally. 

I am now having daily radiotherapy and working adjusted hours around treatment sessions. I have been able to start this regime with confidence that as my energy levels wain and capacity to concentrate declines I can adjust my work pattern accordingly, thanks to pre-existing flexible working arrangements and a very supportive employer and colleagues. Not only is this great for me but I sincerely hope that this will result in my absences not creating a significant added burden on the rest of the hardworking team at DCA. 

Approximately 20% of Australians have some form of disability or significant health condition. 2.1 million Australians of working age (15 – 64 years) have a disability (Australian Network on Disability). 

Accurate data on the number of people with disabilities in your employ can be difficult to gather as many have ‘invisible illnesses’ and choose not to share their health status, particularly in the case of mental health problems. But it is recommended that employers work on the assumption that 10% of their staff have some form of disability. For many of these employees standard workplace flex would make life and work a whole lot better. 

So don’t wait for that request for flexible working arrangements on a reasonable adjustments
application. Make flex mainstreaming in your organisation today. Everyone might not need or want it today, but who knows what tomorrow will bring. 

Read more on DCA's Mainstreaming Flex.

@DivCouncilAus @TracyHocking