HRBC Forum Summary

July 2020: Workplace Flexibility

In July’s virtual HR Breakfast Club, the benefits and challenges of flexible working were presented by Rebecca Richardson, Associate at BAL, and Helen Parrett, BAL’s HR Manager.

Rebecca began by discussing the increased prevalence, popularity, and visibility of flexible work arrangements under COVID-19, particularly the widespread desire for remote work options to remain available post-COVID. She also explained recent changes to award instruments and the Fair Work Act along with the pre-existing right of certain employees to work flexibly.

The presentation then explored the risks and benefits of flexible work. Although remote-work can result in less supervision and support, unclear work-life boundaries and employers have a continued Duty of Care regarding Work Health and Safety, it can also improve employee’s efficiency, motivation, collaboration and productivity.

Helen then discussed some strategies and practical advice for employers in transitioning to flexible work arrangements. She detailed the four key areas to consider in any shift: (1) people’s work and managerial styles; (2) processes that need to change; (3) improving workspaces’ efficiency and cost-effectiveness; and (4) what technology is required.

Finally, Helen presented a three-step ‘Plan, Deploy and Manage’ model for change to assist employers. Planning involves identifying goals, evaluating employee needs, and building the business case. Deploying requires detailed policies, communication of changes to culture and processes and provision of training and support. Finally, managing involves ongoing training, support and measurement of success. This HR Breakfast Club drove home the key message that transitioning to flexible working arrangement can increase employee happiness and productivity, along with making businesses more efficient. However, a successful transition requires effective policies, evaluation, and support from HR Managers. For assistance in the process or for more information, please contact our Employment Law & Investigations Team for more information.

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