Flexible work for managers

Read the Flex-connect framework (PDF, 401.9 KB) (Flex-connect) to understand the Queensland public sector commitment to flexible work. Understand the benefits for individuals, teams, customers, managers and the organisation (stakeholders), and the principles that support successful implementation of flexible work arrangements.

Refer to your organisation’s flexible work policy to understand employee options, and your responsibilities as a public sector manager.

Economic benefits

  • Support of customer needs through a range of delivery mechanisms across multiple channels.
  • Improved employment in regional Queensland as location-agnostic roles enable regional workforce participation.
  • Reduced employee transport and accommodation costs.

Engagement and productivity

  • Improved job satisfaction leads greater discretionary effort, higher work output and employee retention.
  • Reduced absenteeism as people have options when managing personal commitments.

Supporting business continuity and agility

  • Improved business continuity and risk management as through agile teams.
  • Ability to align and respond swiftly to changing priorities.
  • Leverages the full capacity of the workforce.
  • Ability to collaborate and connect better than ever before across the vast regional and remote corners of the State through rapid advances in technology.

Attraction and retention

  • Enhanced employee value proposition as beyond compensation, the ability to work from home or remotely is a top consideration for applicants across most industries.
  • The opportunity to attract people from geographically dispersed areas to roles.

Inclusion and diversity

  • Significant benefits and greater options for employees who live with disability in managing work, health and wellbeing as identified in the Thriving at work, growing a career report (PDF, 914.1 KB) .
  • Reduced gender pay gap as normalising flexible working for all types of roles helps break the association between working flexibly and stalled careers. It supports sharing of caring responsibilities and parents in returning to work.
  • Better ability to provide domestic and family violence support to affected employees.
  • Enhanced cultural safety for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees through better support of cultural needs and obligations.
  • Recognition and respect for the responsibilities that culturally and linguistically diverse employees may have outside of their paid work, including cultural or religious responsibilities, and community and family care responsibilities.
  • Engagement of older employees working towards and beyond retirement age.
  • Increased workforce participation of traditionally under-employed or under-represented diversity groups.

Where we work

Remote or hybrid work blends work between an employer-provided workplace and other locations, including:

  • remote work (or telecommuting)—work away from your main workplace (e.g. at home) on set days.
  • distributed work centres—work in a distributed work centre that is different from your primary workplace. These centres can be shared by more than one government organisation and help employees reduce their commute. They are considered an employer provided workplace.
  • hot desks—use another workplace or workstation in your usual workplace or in another building. The desk may be shared by multiple employees on different days.
  • use of other organisational locations—set up an arrangement to work in a regionally based workplace within your organisation. For example, your position is based in Brisbane but you work from the Mount Isa office.

Advantages include:

  • fewer daily commutes—saves employees time and money and can reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint
  • more collaboration and cooperation across workgroups in different locations
  • higher rates of regional jobs and the related improvements in economic participation.

Considerations are:

  • effective communication—essential for success
  • building and sustaining workplace culture
  • staying connected and reducing feelings of isolation
  • worker’s compensation matters
  • ICT establishment costs and system capability (e.g. internet speeds)
  • optimising workplace presence.

How we work

How we work considers different employee working styles, arrangements, workplace designs, decision making processes, and technology and methodologies, including:

  • collaboration platforms (e.g. MS Teams, Miro, SharePoint, Microsoft365)
  • phased retirement arrangements (easing out of employment by reducing the number of hours you work, or by changing your responsibilities or employment arrangements).

Advantages include:

  • more choice in how work is done
  • greater certainty and a better ability for employees and teams to forward plan
  • continuity of regular salary and income stream
  • more options for career breaks.

Considerations are:

  • expectations must be balanced across the team
  • best ways of working to achieve team outcomes
  • ICT and project capability.

When we work

When we work considers how traditional 9-5 paradigms can be adapted to support wellbeing and provide greater autonomy and choice, including:

  • start and finish times.
  • accrued time (flexi-time, accumulated time)—work more hours than your ordinary daily or weekly hours to use as a full or part-day of leave
  • aggregated or averaged ordinary hours—work hours varied weekly that add up to your total work hours required by the end of a stated work cycle (e.g. over one month)
  • compressed work hours—work full-time hours, but over fewer days (e.g. work a 9-day fortnight)
  • part-time work hours—work fixed, fewer than full-time hours, receiving pro-rata full-time benefits (e.g. recreation and sick leave)
  • part-year work—take several weeks or months unpaid leave or extra leave for proportionate salary (e.g. work 8 months a year with a 4-month break made up of recreation leave and leave without pay)
  • casual or on call work—work the hours needed to meet the business needs
  • alternate weeks—work one or more weeks on followed by one or more weeks off
  • term-time work—work during school terms and take either paid or unpaid time off during school holidays
  • flexible shifts—work different weekly shifts (e.g. 4 shifts week 1 and 6 shifts week 2) that add up to your total work hours required by the end of a stated work cycle
  • self-selecting schedules or shifts—team members choose the hours or shifts they want to work, to optimise the work schedule for themselves and their co-workers
  • shift swapping—team members swap shifts with each other to help control their schedule and ensure the business is not left without staff for a shift
  • job share—share a role with 1 or more employees (e.g. 2 employees share 1 position and tasks but work different days, or 2 employees share 1 position but take on different aspects of the job)
  • leave arrangements, including:
    • long service or recreation leave at half pay.
    • purchased leave—receive a reduced fortnightly salary over a nominated period to acquire additional recreation leave.
    • career break or sabbatical leave—access special leave without pay for short and long-term absences or career breaks.
    • extended leave (e.g. 6 months) without pay or with proportionate salary for personal reasons (e.g. study, extended holidays, help with grandchildren).

Advantages include:

  • facilitates exit or re-entry into the workforce
  • supports employees in meeting demands of family, personal or community responsibilities
  • maintains career continuity
  • encourages knowledge transfer
  • facilitates seasonal workflow peaks and troughs.

Considerations are:

  • access to team meetings or learning events
  • communication optimisation
  • business continuity and ensuring customer service is not compromised
  • effect on other entitlements (e.g., annual leave, superannuation)
  • challenges in backfilling for shorter periods

Enhanced belonging and better relationships

  • People need connection.
  • Working with co-workers to create, problem solve and use our talents can be rewarding and provide happiness and fulfillment.
  • Familiarity and regular contact face-to-face increases acceptance, trust and empathy. It also reduces isolation from a lack of social connection with team members. If you are together, it is easier to read people’s emotions and be more aware of when colleagues may be down or struggling and allows greater support.

Shared culture and improved performance

  • A shared office space is often at the heart of the workplace culture which is necessary to enable performance.
  • Energy is acquired from the positive emotional contagion of being together, linked through interdependent goals.
  • Sharing work goals and projects, reaffirms your sense of value, appreciation for your work, and supports your professional growth.

Improved health and wellbeing

  • Getting up, dressed, and interacting with others, adds variety and stimulation to your day and is shown to help with mental balance and mood.
  • Many people report a reduction in tech fatigue and even if you love your job, having a clear ‘place of work’, that you can physically leave, helps people to ‘switch off’ and recharge.
  • The processes involved in listening, empathising, thinking and responding is also proven to improve mental function.
  • Increased incidental movement during the workday for those who work in an office, and travel to and from home.


  • A valuable way to learn is through watching other people. Even when not consciously aware, we always watch and model others’ behaviour.
  • Encouraging curiosity in the office can help disseminate knowledge across the desks, breaking down silos and allowing for ideas to be shared and developed as a team.

Different ways of working

  • Collaboration with colleagues, customers, stakeholder engagement, or important team building, or training is often best done in the workplace.
  • Multi-generational teams will often have different values, needs and expectations and how and where diverse types of work is done should be discussed as a team to reach a happy medium.

Flex-connect encourages a team-centred approach to flexible work design. You should discuss with your team the options available to accommodate everyone’s needs, while ensuring stakeholder requirements are considered.

Use the flex-connect team conversation guide for help.

To build an agile and flexible team:

  • understand the organisational value of flexible work
  • consider the benefits of workplace presence
  • encourage the team to give ideas, raise concerns and provide solutions, including how their roles can be more flexible
  • discuss the behaviours and expectations that will support a successful flexible working team culture
  • anchor the team approach to flexible work around performance and wellbeing
  • challenge traditional notions of work hours and locations
  • use digital platforms and support digital capability building
  • develop a schedule of virtual and in-person meetings and work activities to support the work of the team (e.g. daily virtual check-ins, weekly problem-solving or project specific in-person meetings)
  • design work activities, meetings, workshops and forums that are ‘flexible friendly’, with times that suit most—provide choice and facilitate inclusion for remote participation
  • practise best practice behaviours that create a flexible work culture and support inclusive teams.

Complete flexible work agreements

Once you’ve discussed with your team where, how and when work is done, get them to complete a flexible work agreement.

Refer to your manager or HR team to see if your agency has a form for this or whether you can use this example flexible work agreement form (PDF, 268.9 KB) .

Managers are responsible for creating a flexible work culture and ensuring they have the capability needed to lead flexible work and manage flexible work arrangements.

Lead flexible work

To lead flexible work:

  • promote and encourage flexible work options in your team and organisation
  • model flexible working—be visible and vocal about your flexible working arrangements and give others permission to work flexibly
  • create opportunities to share flexible work stories—be purposeful in creating time to share how flexible work is done within your team.
  • acknowledge that people have responsibilities and a ‘life’ outside of work
  • challenge any outdated attitudes and cultural norms and support caring responsibilities
  • address any organisation culture that equates commitment with working long hours
  • focus on outcomes rather than activities or hours spent at a workplace or in an office
  • give employees flexibility to manage their time and work in ways that suit them, with freedom to align work scheduled with their most focused or productive times
  • promote a culture of continuous improvement underpinned by trust, accountability and support
  • treat employees with fairness and consistency—balance the need to understand and respect everyone’s individual and unique needs, with flexible work approaches that will work across the team
  • recruit for diversity—be clear about the flexibility you can offer when you advertise and recruit within your team.

Manage flexible work

To manage flexible work:

  • give your team clear expectations about performance and managing workload
  • establish ways to connect with each other and ensure deliverables are on track
  • assess and prevent or minimise employee health and safety risks when they are working at other times or locations
  • ensure flexible work arrangements include a review date and collaborate with employees to make adjustments where needed to ensure positive outcomes

When considering an employee’s proposed flexible work agreement:

  • familiarise yourself with your organisation’s:
    • flexible work policy
    • award and agreement conditions
    • associated policies and guidelines (e.g. parental leave, reasonable adjustment)
    • privacy and confidentiality requirements (e.g. document security)
  • consider the details of the request and that it is in accordance with the Flex-connect framework and complies with your organisation’s flexible work policy
  • check that the impacts of the arrangement on team members, customers and the organisation has been considered
  • assess the employee’s skills and ability to manage their work within the requested flexible work arrangement consider if development or support is needed (e.g. time management)
  • ensure the employee has been consulted prior to finalising this arrangement so accountabilities and expectations are well understood and any specific conditions are outlined in the agreement
  • ensure that information is managed as per your organisation’s Information security policy and Code of conduct.

When finalising a flexible work agreement, confirm you have:

  • involved employees in your decision-making
  • considered the details of the request and that it’s in accordance with the organisation’s flexible work policy and Flex-connect framework
  • sought advice from human resources on how to support the flexible work agreement and prior to refusing or granting the request in part or subject to conditions, that grounds for the decision are reasonable.
  • evaluated the impacts of this agreement on team members, customers and the organisation
  • ensured that the decision is compatible with human rights as required under the Human Rights Act 2019
  • consulted with the employee prior to finalising the flexible work agreement so accountabilities and expectations are well understood and outlined any specific conditions
  • provided the employee with a written response noting the decision, conditions, reasons and grounds for conditions or refusal, and dispute rights, addresses this requirement within 21 days from receipt of the request
  • set out the review period as per your organisation’s flexible work policy.

Refusing a flexible work agreement request

If you are considering refusing a flexible work agreement request, ensure you have sought advice from human resources before finalising your decision. Prior to refusing or conditionally approving the request, ensure that the grounds for the decision are reasonable.

Managers have 21 days from receipt of a flexible work agreement request to provide employees with a written response. You are to provide a signed copy of the flexible work agreement noting the decision, conditions, reasons and grounds for conditions or refusal, and your dispute rights.

You must provide the employee with options for an appeal right, if they believe the decision about an application for flexible work is unfair or unreasonable, and provide information about how they can: