Flexible by Design
Flexible by Design (a principle-based framework) aims to find the ‘flexibility within flexibility’ and transform traditional approaches to flexible work to meet future needs. The framework outlines the benefits, reasons and principles behind flexible work as well as the organisational journey to achieve a healthy work-life blend.
Agile and flexible working is a strategic imperative within the Queensland public sector 3 year human capital strategic roadmap. It is critical to creating an innovative and diverse workforce – a future workforce that has the ability to respond to emerging priorities.
To meet future demands, the sector will need to attract, develop, and retain the best talent; manage multi-generational workforces seeking different employment experiences and support employees who work into their 70s and 80s.
A flexible workforce is essential to meet customers’ demand for agile, adaptive and responsive services.
Organisations are complex systems where inherent patterns of behaviour and processes repeat at many levels. As such, the benefits of flexible working are connected and compound from individuals to teams to organisations.
- Employer Brand
- Diversity dividend
- Decision making
- Work-life blend
Flexible work, when done well, has significant and widespread benefits. It is not for everyone all the time, but about providing choice and accountability to maximise individual and organisational outcomes.
Three principles demonstrate the intent of Flexible by Design and guide flexible work decision making within the sector:
- Achieve better organisational outcomes by being flexible
- Empower employees to find balance, wellbeing and bring their whole selves to work
- Reduce bureaucratic process and increase mobile technology to enable flexibility
Flexible by Design journey
Understanding an agency’s current state is essential to its ongoing journey to be Flexible by Design. An agency’s stage of maturity (traditional, developing or Flexible by Design) will provide a signal for growth opportunities.
- Limited appreciation for the benefits of flexible work
- Regulated approach to flexible work, and a workplace that is slow to respond to change
- Full-time is default for recruitment
- Appreciates the benefits of flexible work and incorporates into business-as-usual
- Deliberate emphasis on flexibility across the organisation, but application is siloed and segmented
- Promotes flexible work opportunities during recruitment
Flexible by Design:
- Embeds flexible work to capitalise on diversity dividend and achieve better business outcomes
- Diversity dividend – flexibility encourages diversity, diversity enables inclusion, inclusion creates innovation, innovation drives high performance
- Mutually beneficial flexible arrangements that align with service delivery optimise and prioritise business performance
- Attract and retain employees that value balance and flexibility, and want innovation and contemporary approaches to work
- Limited uptake of flexible work
- Flexible work requests are initiated by employees and seen as a problem to address behind closed doors
- Lack of trust from colleagues and excessive hours seen as a badge of honour
- No one promotes or shares stories about flexible work
- Moderate uptake of flexible work
- Managers accommodate individual requests so work-life conflict is minimised
- Teams accommodate arrangements, but feel others have to pick up the load left by flexible work arrangements
- Some employees work flexibly, but do not tend to promote or share stories
Flexible by Design:
- All employees can request flexible work – flexible work is the norm and reflects diverse workers, work and workplaces
- Teams create flexible work approaches that are less about rues. Process and structure, and more about culture, outcomes, ways of thinking and wellbeing
- Solutions demonstrate give and take, trust, open communication, cooperation, negotiation and ethics
- Employees proudly share and promote flexible work stories.
The process demonstrates:
- Employees and managers agree formal and relatively static arrangements
- Risk averse and bureaucratic approval processes where health, safety and wellbeing is not an organisational priority
- Limited access to mobile technology and modern workspaces
- Time and tasks used as primary measure of performance
- Managers and employees agree to formal and informal arrangements
- Managers and employees are risk aware and understand health, safety and wellbeing priorities
- Greater emphasis on collaborative space, mobile technology and team processes that support flexible work
- Flexible work used as a benefit or reward for high performance
Flexible by Design:
- Embeds flexible work into all roles – managers demonstrate how roles work flexibly and lead by example
- Health, safety and wellbeing is an organisational priority and engages with risk intelligence to focus on solutions
- Collaborative work environments and mobile technology support success
- Frequent meaningful conversations about outcomes measure employee performance.