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the majority of workers want to work remotely 30% of the time.

Australian employers are the least open to flexible working arrangements of anyone in the Asia Pacific region, with 79% of local workers saying they cannot work remotely in their current position.

This compares to 59% of Chinese workers, 62% of Indians, 64% of Malaysian and 65% of workers in Hong Kong SAR and New Zealand who cannot work remotely.

The Federal Government encourages local businesses to improve their flexible working options with initiatives such as National Telework Week.

With the latest World of Work Report by recruitment and HR specialists, Randstad shows that 40% of employees still rate their current employer’s efforts in creating and adopting flexible work options as average or poor.

Smiling woman with kid on her lap sitting at a the kitchen table with tablet.
Smiling woman with kid on her lap sitting at a the kitchen table with tablet.

the findings also show australians are craving a more flexible approach to work, with most starting their ideal working arrangement would involve spending 70% of their hours in the office and 30% working remotely.

Australian workers are seeking more flexible and innovative work practices. It is a shame to see that Australia is lagging behind a large portion of the region when implementing such procedures.

Having a good work-life balance is becoming increasingly important to people. As a response, flexible working options need to become a priority for senior management and HR decision-makers in Australia to improve employee engagement, boost performance and productivity and foster loyalty.

If businesses continue to overlook this shift in priorities, they could open themselves up to losing their top talent.

There are several ways companies can increase flexibility within their workforce. This could be through the varying start and finish times or hiring employees on a part-time basis; however, the crux is for business leaders to be continuously supportive and understanding when their staff have personal commitments or require flexibility in how they work. 

The standard 8:30-5:00 pm office hours aren’t the only time employees can prove their productivity and effectiveness.

For flexible working arrangements to work effectively and prove beneficial for companies, mutual understanding, trust, and clear expectations must be established, and both parties must agree on when tasks must be completed.

Employers may find a notable increase in engagement, productivity, loyalty, and performance improvement, particularly from employees who crave and value flexibility.

Most concerning about the slow uptake in Australia is that many employers already understand the benefits of flexible working strategies in a business – with 41% believing it boosts employee engagement and satisfaction, and 27% agree it assists in attracting and retaining top talent.

Despite this acknowledgement, a significant barrier to the solid adoption of these flexible working arrangements is a shared concern amongst management about employee productivity.

To stamp out apprehension and ensure productivity and engagement levels positively benefit from flexible working practices, business leaders need to have guidelines and a framework to foster virtual teamwork and collaboration.

This could mean embracing video technologies such as Google Hangouts or Skype to collaborate, mainly when working on team projects.

blended modes of work

As workplaces continue to evolve, flexibility will drive various employment modes – with 86% of organisations planning to manage an increasingly blended workforce of permanent, contract and virtual staff members.

An increase in diversified conditions within the post-GFC labour market is already experienced. To better accommodate peak business periods and reduce overheads, Australian businesses will progressively turn to temporary or contract-based individuals, allowing them the flexibility of scaling up and scaling down when required.

This approach will allow companies to manage temporary staff and budgets during peaks and troughs with reduced risk in times of uncertainty within the business.

managing a multi-generational workforce

Australian businesses also need to manage the wide-ranging expectations of a multi-generational workforce.

Workers from each generation have different preferences and motivations, so employers will need to implement flexible policies for groups and individuals.

Gen Y and Z want to maintain a healthy work/life balance. Gen X will continue seeking part-time employment to cater to family needs, and Baby Boomers will look for irregular work hours and phased retirement options to preserve work satisfaction and social interaction.

accommodating different types of workers is the key to successful flexible working

In today’s digital and economic age, increased flexibility in the workplace is an inevitable and essential aspect of talent management.

Suppose Australian companies want to remain competitive, retain their top talent, improve job satisfaction amongst their employees, and thrive in solid and uncertain economic times. In that case, flexible working arrangements need to become an absolute priority this year and future.