This year NAWO ran three Knowledge Share Forums on ‘Instilling a culture of flexible work’ in WA, QLD and SA. Participating NAWO Member companies were: Caltex, Bluescope, Orora, ABB, BP, Visy, Bunnings, FMG, Rio Tinto, Orica, CBH, Asaleo Care, PPG, Kimberly Clark, ARTC, Dulux Group, Owens Illinois (OI Glass), Pernod Ricard, Parmalat, Detmold Group, Boral, Screening Transport and CSR.
Interestingly, these forums identified many shared concerns and barriers to embedding a flexible work culture, as well as a few great examples of innovative work and thinking. A summary of the key barriers and new initiatives is included in the Knowledge Share Paper below.
The forums highlighted enormous opportunity for NAWO to play a role in facilitating further knowledge share, continuing conversation and acting as a ‘resource hub’ to connect you to the best information and people to support you to overcome challenges.
This paper is an invaluable resource for setting the context for ongoing conversation and future activities on this topic, both within your business and throughout the NAWO network.
We look forward to bringing you more Knowledge Share Papers on key topics of interest to NAWO members in the coming months.
Instilling a culture of flexible work
Reflections from NAWO’s 2018 Knowledge Share Forums on flexibility
NAWO Knowledge Share Forums are forums limited to 12 participants – 1 per NAWO member organisation – who are passionate about driving diversity and inclusion strategies forward in their organisations. The forums are designed to inspire the co-creation of pragmatic actions that will make a difference in the topic area.
The world of work is changing, we all know it. Automation, Industry 4.0, increasing demand for talented, innovative, and agile people. Whether we be manufacturers, supply chains, retailers, warehouses, transport and logistics specialists or agricultural producers, the challenges and opportunities we are being presented with are common. High level, we all share the objective of getting the best product or service to our customers at the right time and at the right price, safely and at the highest possible quality.
So how should we be resourcing ourselves with the talent we need to achieve both the outcomes we want and best face into the increasing pace of change?
There are many angles from which we need to face into this change, but one that is always a hot topic for the NAWO community is how we can enable people to be agile and flexible in how they work – facilitating and enabling more individual control over when and where they work – to best achieve business outcomes. Instilling a culture of flexibility.
An added and very important benefit of flexible workplaces? Attracting and retaining female talent, enabling flexibility expands the talent pool immediately!
NAWO ran three Knowledge Share Forums on this very topic in WA, QLD and SA. Participating companies were: Caltex, Bluescope, Orora, ABB, BP, Visy, Bunnings, FMG, Rio Tinto, Orica, CBH, Asaleo Care, PPG, Kimberly Clark, ARTC, Dulux Group, Owens Illinois (OI Glass), Pernod Ricard, Parmalat, Detmold Group, Boral, Screening Transport and CSR. Interestingly, these forums identified many shared concerns and barriers to embedding a flexible work culture, as well as a few great examples of innovative work and thinking. Following is a summary of the knowledge and the barriers to change shared by forum participants.
WHAT IS A CULTURE OF FLEXIBILITY?
There was terrific discussion around this at all three forums and this is generally where each group landed.
Flexible working is the ability to negotiate how, when and where you work to achieve agreed business outcomes.
Having a flexible work culture goes way beyond the traditionally held paradigm of part-time work for returning mothers. It is about enabling flexible work options for all workers.
Many forum participants found this a useful change of mindset. Participants shared that a culture of flexible work requires as a pre-requisite an output and outcomes driven mindset, trust, and mutual respect and accountability from everyone involved.
Forum participants agreed that there is no one size fits all (sorry about that – no magic formula). Every company will need to define the culture/principles that work for their business, based on desired outcomes and objectives, and the people who work there. It necessitates the organisation of inputs and resources and actively supporting managers and team members to act in line with the principles until it just becomes ‘this is the way it’s done around here’.
SO WHY GET FLEXIBLE?
10 KEY POINTS
WHAT ARE THE COMMON CHALLENGES TO EMBEDDING A CULTURE OF FLEXIBLE WORK?
Discussion in the Knowledge Share Forums indicated that, in general, there are informal flexibility options for people in office based roles across our network – flexing start and finish times, working from home, applying time in lieu and hooking into meetings via conference call when working remotely. However, the general consensus described by forum participants was that this is very Manager/Team specific, with some teams still keeping their informal flexible work practices ‘quiet’ so as to not ‘rock the boat’.
Senior leadership buy-in is critical for embedding a true flexible work culture. Forum participants identified 5 key potential barriers to this buy-in:
On the frontline in 24/7 operations, forum participants described 8 more traditional barriers to a culture of flexible work:
HOW ARE COMPANIES IN THE NAWO NETWORK GETTING FLEXIBLE?
Encouragingly, several NAWO member companies are rethinking the way they enable their people to work. A couple are even analysing how 24/7 shift workers can have access to flexible options and this is super exciting.
Following are 8 great initiatives:
An interesting general outcome of the Knowledge Share Forums was recognition that there could be more happening in pockets of our organisations than we are aware – informal, case-by-case flexibility – so there may be many more good news stories that could be used to develop a case for more consistent application of the principles of flexible work. Participants agreed that there is great power in sharing these stories and ‘leading out loud’ with successful examples of flexible work.
Across the board, structural changes were identified as a key to instilling a culture of flexibility. Opportunities included:
WHERE TO FROM HERE
This paper summarises the conversations, ideas and challenges shared at the NAWO Knowledge Share Forum and highlights some key considerations regarding barriers and potential opportunities for instilling a culture of flexible work. It provides a useful starting point for generating discussion within your organisation. Maybe you could use it to host a similar Knowledge Share event within your organisation?
For more useful information, check out our Podcast specifically on this topic, “Let’s get flexible”, an interview with CEO of FlexCareers, Natalie Goldman.
NAWO is a valuable ‘resource hub’ that can connect you to the best information and people to support you to overcome challenges. Please get in touch to find out more…