Employees are getting restless - less and less are they content to be tethered to their office desk '9 to 5', five days a week.
Nowadays, they generally look for more balance between their work and personal lives, and the prospect of flexible working hours is increasingly attractive to a growing portion of the workforce.
Whether you are a parent juggling school pick-up/drop-off times or you have certain sporting commitments or religious obligations, working around these duties can be a trying task. Do you cut back your hours from a full-time role to part-time or casual? Ask to come in late one day and early the next? Or extend your lunch break one-day a week to run those nonnegotiable errands?
While these options are suitable for maybe a handful of occasions, they are not viable long-term solutions when it comes to productivity and efficiency in the workplace. One company that has pursued a different course to traditional workplace practices is PwC, one of Australia’s leading professional service firms.
PwC adopted its ‘All Roles Flex’ initiative in 2015, allowing staff to go to their manager and discuss what hours and work arrangements work best for them in their particular role.
PwC Australia Human Capital Leader Sue Horlin said the model was a holistic approach to considering what worked for the individual and enabling them to deliver the output the company required.
“We hire really smart people and ask them to do hard things to delight our clients, so we are open to them having a conversation with us about doing that in a way that suits them," Ms Horlin said.
“We don’t have a policy that says what is okay and what is not. The policy is around an open two-way conversation with every single one of our staff so they have the opportunity to work flexibly.”
Since the launch PwC employees around Australia have adopted the policy with open arms, with 64 per cent of staff taking advantage of the All Roles Flex policy in some capacity.
The model has been so successful, other PwC firms around the world have been talking to the Australian head office about how to integrate the program into everyday business practice.
“We have clients that want different things delivered in different ways and we have an agile, diverse workforce who want to work in different ways, so it makes absolute sense to enable that great workforce to work in the way that best suits them to deliver the best service for our clients,” Ms Horlin said.
“It is about looking after our people and letting them come to work in a way that makes sense for them, but it is equally about delivering great work for our clients.”
Another company that has put its own spin on the traditional workplace structure is New South Wales-based public relations firm The Atticism.
Balancing a heavy workload and seemingly never-ending hours at the office led The Atticism Founder Renae Smith to develop bad heart palpitations.
Landing herself in a hospital bed with cords running left, right and centre, Ms Smith realised something needed to change.
From that point on, she set about experimenting with different workplace arrangements that would help her and her staff manage the workload more efficiently. “I noticed my staff turnover was huge and the satisfaction in what we were doing wasn’t great,” Ms Smith said.
Under the new policy, Ms Smith’s staff were banned from working more than 20 hours per week from the company’s headquarters, with office hours only permitted mid-week from Tuesday to Thursday. Her staff were encouraged to work the remaining two days – Monday and Friday – remotely, days otherwise known as ‘Work from the Beach Days’.
“Since putting the new policy in place, I have noticed all my staff are much happier,” Ms Smith said.
“When we come in on a Tuesday There is always so much to talk about and everyone is a lot more creative with their ideas rather than just sitting at their desks for eight hours a day trying really hard to come up with new ideas. I have found my staff are much more creative and their ideas are a lot stronger.”
Crediting the success of her new work policy to technology and programs such as Dropbox and personal messaging service Slack, Ms Smith said it was a workplace model she thought could be rolled out in many different environments.
“My tip would be to research a few different ideas on how to minimise people's workloads, but not reduce that productivity, and then trial them for a month or so to see how they go, " she said.