Flexible work stories

Find out what employees say about flexible work!

1. Phillip Kohn, Director, Department of State Development Manufacturing Infrastructure and Planning

Tell us about your experience of flexible working?

I have been working 4 days a week since 2011. First as an AO8 and then as a Director.

How did the early conversations with your manager about flexible working go?

I requested 4 days a week upon commencement with the department and my manager at the time was happy to agree provided the arrangement was able to be reassessed depending upon business needs. When I was offered the Director position, I again asked for 4 days a week and again there was no problem from my then manager.

What was the impact on the team and what happened to make it a success, or not?

Due to the longstanding nature of the part-time arrangement there was limited impact on the team. As my responsibilities grew and I managed increasing numbers of people the advent of mobile technology enabled me to respond to emergencies on my registered day off. Having effective staff in whom I have faith makes it relatively straight forward.

How do you and your manager ensure business needs are met?

On my day off I ensure my team members are present across our workload. Being able to respond to emergencies through the work mobile ensures business needs are met.

What would you recommend to employees and managers starting their flexible by design journey?

First make sure people are not working unreasonable hours. Then assess business needs. Be flexible and ask all staff if they would like to work flexible hours—do not wait to be asked. Obtain 6 month to 12 month agreements about flexible work arrangements, and use unused FTE to employ more people if required to meet business needs.

2. Paul Reynolds, Director, Department of Education

What’s your personal flexible work story?

I have had a wonderful experience with flexible work thanks to an extremely supportive employer and a strong commitment from all parties to make it work. I have been with the Department of Education and Training since 1992, but moved to the Sunshine Coast in 2001, when my role was still attached to Central Office in Brisbane.

I was appointed Media Manager for the department in 2001, but being a statewide role it did not matter where the position was based, so long as I was responsive to the needs of the Ministerial Office, senior executives of the organisation, as well as journalists, on a 24/7 on call basis. It has worked quite seamlessly since that time.

How did the early conversations with your manager/s about flexible working go?

Under the arrangement, I worked part of the working week (usually Mondays and Fridays) out of the department’s North Coast Regional Office and the remainder of the week in Brisbane. That posed a few initial complexities in that I needed my own Director to be supportive, the Ministerial and Director-General’s office to be on board as well as the North Coast Regional Director. There also needed to be physical office and desk space available. Everyone was very positive about the arrangement from the get go and that has continued to this day.

What was the impact on the team and what happened to make it a success, or not?

The impact on my media and public affairs teams has been negligible. The critical success factor has always been about being available to take that call or to respond quickly to an email to provide the same level of advice no matter where I am. Our department has a deep commitment to its employees having a good work-life balance, and that is particularly evident with how much the organisation has supported me over such a long time. That level of trust in your reliability, your responsiveness and your commitment to get the work done professionally and within deadline, makes it easy for me to stay motivated and provide the very best level of service I can in return.

How do you and your manager ensure business needs are met?

I never know the shape of the monster that is going to walk through my door on any given day and that makes my job all the more interesting. It keeps you on your toes and helps me stay as sharp as I can in responding to enquiries or just dispensing advice. Much of our media work has tight turnarounds with deadlines measured in minutes and hours, not so much days and weeks. In that respect, I hate missing deadlines and you can only be as good as the team that you have. Fortunately, I have a team of highly motivated go-getters that I think are well respected right throughout our great organisation. I like to think that they are known as much for their efficiency as they are for their proficiency. I am very proud to work with them and very proud to work in the department.

What would you recommend to employees and managers starting their flexible by design journey?

Flexible work is not for everyone, but when implemented in the right way, for the right person, at the right time, they can lead to tremendous business efficiencies. In many cases, it is about having the right mind set to be able to work remotely and independently, in the same way you would if you were in your base location. The secret is having a commitment for such an arrangement to work well not only for yourself, but for your business unit and your organisation. I am ever thankful that it has worked well for me and the department.