The Importance of Leadership for Flexible Working

A recent Forbes article has highlighted the increased popularity of flexible working since the Covid pandemic and the leadership required for this be successful.

Australian workers were quizzed about their experiences of remote work and the findings provide practical guidance to help companies implement effective flexible working policies.

"Flexible work is the new frontier for organisations to manage their employees' well-being. Flexible working delivers more time and control to the individual—better work-life balance—which enables them to better prioritise their well-being both during and outside of work," the researchers explain. However, to make this successful, good leadership needs to be in place.

Key findings

  • Around a quarter of respondents said that they regularly work from home without a remote working policy.
    Researchers believe that this is likely to result in organisations failing to meet obligations with regards to psychosocial safety. Without a policy, employees may be at risk of psychosocial harm, including lower job control and a lack of role clarity. 
  • Over a third of employees work more since working flexibly.
    The blurring of work-life boundaries and the potential of burnout is a potential risk. Particularly for primary caregiviers, as this can lead to a significant increase in the amount of both paid and unpaid work that is unhealthy and unsustainable.
  • Planning and investment in a remote working policy is required to overcome challenges, yet seldom delivered.
    The researchers highlight that effectively implementing flexible work is not without challenge. It requires the thoughtful adaptation of flexible work practices both to enable worker wellbeing and to drive business outcomes.
    "Flexible work policies need to be equitable rather than equal, while also meeting the needs of the workforce and the organisation. Consulting with their workers about how to balance the equation between employee expectations and organisation needs is leadership in action. An important factor which warrants further attention is the impact leaders can have on employees and their well-being through trust and expectation setting when it comes to flexible work," the researchers explain.

"In a more dynamic labour market the availability of flexible working options can make a real difference in attracting and retaining talent.  The challenge is in reconciling the increased demand for flexible working with other intrinsic workplace values, such as the huge benefits that flow from human connection. How these competing realities are resolved can impact significantly on team and organisation health and productivity. 

Establishing understanding and agreement around a myriad of many complex issues takes trust, inclusiveness and  effective communication. Superior leadership practice in this realm will promote an organisation culture founded on collaborative, creative and sustainable solutions.”
Steffan Brunner, Associate Director and Leadership Development Practice Lead

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