Flexible work arrangements: Beyond the home office

Forget the one-size-fits-all approach! Explore flexible work options like compressed weeks or split schedules.

Insights Author: Clare Ferguson

While working from home (WFH) has become a popular flexible work arrangement, it’s not the only option for employees seeking a better work-life balance and improved wellbeing.

This blog explores a range of flexible work arrangements beyond the typical. We’ll also dive deep into the core concept of embracing flexibility, revealing how it creates a win-win situation for both your employees and your organisation.

Embracing the power of flexibility

At its core, flexible work isn’t just about remote options.

It’s about acknowledging the unique needs and preferences of your workforce. It’s a shift away from a rigid, one-size-fits-all approach, creating an environment that empowers employees to work in a way that fosters both personal wellbeing and professional success.

This requires:

  • Active listening: Understanding the needs of both employees and the organisation.
  • Open communication: Fostering transparency and dialogue both ways.
  • A willingness to experiment: Trying different arrangements to find the best fit.

While WFH has become popular, especially during the pandemic, it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Let’s take a look at a wider range of flexible work arrangements.

Working and childcare responsibilities

Five popular flexible work arrangements

1. Compressed workweeks

This increasingly popular arrangement allows Australian employees to condense their full-time hours into fewer days, typically four instead of five.

The four-day workweek has gained significant traction this year — and it’s no wonder as the benefits are quite compelling. Employees gain valuable time for personal needs and a longer weekend, leading to improved morale, reduced absenteeism, and less burnout – all without compromising productivity.  Employers can also see a win, with potential cost savings on overhead expenses like office space and utilities.

2. Flexible start and finish times

This option empowers employees to take control of their daily schedules by adjusting their start and finish times within set parameters. This flexibility is particularly valuable for those juggling commutes (nearly 30% of Australians commute for more than 30 minutes each way), childcare responsibilities, or other personal commitments. Employers benefit from a more adaptable workforce able to respond to changing demands. Additionally, reduced absenteeism becomes a possibility as employees can better manage their personal needs without sacrificing work.

3. Job sharing

This arrangement involves two or more part-time employees sharing the responsibilities of a single full-time position. This can be ideal for individuals seeking reduced hours while maintaining full-time benefits and career continuity. Employers benefit from diverse perspectives and skill sets while ensuring continuity of work on specific projects.

4. Split schedules

This option allows employees to divide their work hours into multiple segments throughout the day or week. This can be beneficial for individuals with specific scheduling needs, such as attending classes or caring for dependents during certain hours. Employers benefit from greater flexibility in coverage during off-peak hours and increased employee productivity.

5. Staggered work hours

Staggered work hours offer a win-win for both employees and employers. Individual employees within a team or department can start and finish at different times, significantly easing rush-hour congestion and reducing traffic burdens on employees. This can also contribute to a lower company environmental footprint, especially valuable for organisations with carbon neutrality goals.

Additionally, spreading employees throughout the day leads to improved office space utilisation. It allows employers to either optimise their existing workspace or even explore downsizing options. The result? Reduced operational costs while ensuring a smooth workflow throughout the day, with essential tasks always covered by someone within the team.

Dad working from home with daughter

More unique flexible work arrangements

Didn’t find a perfect fit among the options we’ve covered so far?

Here are some additional creative approaches to enhance work flexibility:

  1. Flexi-space: Consider flexibility in location. Allow employees to work from co-working spaces, satellite offices, or even while travelling. This caters to those who thrive in different environments or have geographically dispersed needs.
  2. Project-based work: This approach offers scheduling flexibility by aligning work hours with project milestones rather than fixed daily routines. It empowers employees to manage their time efficiently while focusing on achieving specific project goals.
  3. Time banking: This allows employees to accrue time for working extra hours. They can then redeem these hours for time off or additional personal leave. This personalised approach offers a unique way to manage worklife balance and reward dedication.

Working on Holidays

How to support flexible work arrangements as an employer

Your commitment goes beyond simply offering options.

If you’re truly invested in making flexible work successful, consider how you could foster a supportive environment:

  • Embrace technology: Invest in tools that facilitate seamless communication and collaboration, regardless of physical location. This ensures everyone stays connected and in the loop, even when working remotely.
  • Focus on results, not hours: Shift the focus from “time spent in the office” to measurable outcomes and performance metrics. This empowers employees, fosters a results-oriented culture, and aligns individual efforts with achieving overall goals.
  • Cultivate trust and open communication: Maintaining transparent communication and building a culture of trust are essential for the success and long-term sustainability of any flexible work arrangement. This open dialogue allows for addressing concerns, fostering collaboration, and building a foundation for a truly flexible and thriving workplace.

Remember, true flexibility is a two-way street – it requires commitment from both employers and employees to create a culture that values well-being, productivity, and mutual success. So, look beyond the schedule and invest in building a workplace where everyone feels supported, valued, and empowered to do their best work


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