Resource 8 - Flexible working challenges and suggestions for addressing these

Types of challenges
 

Awareness and capability

Examples

Lack of understanding about:

  • the range of flexible working and how common it already is
  • what flexible-by-default is and isn’t
  • the business case for, and benefits of flexible working
  • the distinction between formal and informal flexible working
  • the rights and obligations related to formal flexible work requests (both managers and employees)
  • what a genuine business reason is for not agreeing to requests
  • the reciprocal roles and actions that employees, managers and teams can take to help flexibility work while maintaining team delivery.

How to address

Use the information and suggestions in this resource to raise awareness and support managers and staff through regular communications, engagement and learning opportunities.

This resource has suggestions and examples to help agencies develop their own tools to address common challenges and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Resource 9 provides tips for managers, employees and teams on what they can all do to support effective flexible working in a way that maintains team delivery, including maintaining team communications when members work remotely.

Processes

Examples

  • Lack of appropriate agency policies and processes for requesting, considering, approving or declining formal and/or informal requests
  • Inconsistent decisions across the agency
  • Health and safety and/or information privacy and security policies and processes that are not fit for remote working
  • Lack of information about the take-up of informal flexible working and the request and approval/decline rates for flexible working.

How to address

Resource 3 has suggested processes for requesting, considering, approving or declining flexible working requests. Ensure these processes are widely socialised across your agency and are easily accessible and understandable to all employees and managers. Consider how to support managers to make consistent decisions, especially in the early stages of your shift.

Resource 10 has suggestions on health and safety and information privacy and security policies and processes that are fit for remote working.

Develop a method for tracking formal requests and approvals/declines, and for periodically gathering information on the take-up of informal flexible working (see Collectively explore our current state).

Systems

Examples

  • Lack of the technology that makes flexible working easier.

How to address

Work with HR, IT, health and safety, information security and privacy personnel to determine relevant criteria and information to be embedded in plans and communicated to staff.

Develop a team charter to promote shared norms of behaviour and effective communications across teams.

Mindsets

Examples

  • A culture of ‘presenteeism’ with managers concerned that employees can’t/won’t deliver work outside of the office
  • Flexes – bias towards employees working flexibly
  • Flexible working is hard to do in small teams if everyone wants to work flexibly
  • A culture that expects 24/7 availability.

How to address

Give managers support and training to help them manage outcomes, rather than presenteeism.

Ensure managers understand the processes and tips provided in this resource on managing flexible employees and teams (see Resource 9).

Use the Summary of flexible-by-default key messages (page A) and the Principles of flexible-by-default (see Part one: page 3) to help ensure managers and employees understand what flexible-by-default is and isn’t and understand that flexibility needs to work for the employee, the team and the agency.

Ensure managers and employees are familiar with your agency’s assessment of the constraints around some types of flexible working in some types of roles but also remain open to considering a range of options.

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