A COVID story : Mindsets around flexible working to shift

For many organisations, the disruption of COVID-19 has rewritten the business case for flexible ways of working. It has also changed the way we view how, when, where and by whom work gets done.

A discussion paper by the group Male Champions of Change (MCC) has declared that as we prepare to return to workplaces, "now is the time to shift mindsets and behaviours around when, where, how and by whom work outcomes are achieved."

The discussion paper, "Accelerating Change on Flexible Ways of Working", released on Friday 17 July, asserts that we (Australia) have an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate change on flexible ways of working.

Based on surveys of the experiences, insights and lessons from employees in the MCC coalition of companies, which comprise mostly those in the ASX200, the paper looks at the situation before COVID 19, insights from lockdown, challenges and the future of flexible working. 

There is widespread agreement that  COVID-19 has re-written and amplified the business case for flexible ways of working. For example, before COVID 19, flexible working was still largely an accommodation for women with caring responsibilities and to support gender equality strategies. During lockdown remote and flexible working became critical to risk management and business continuity, and now the future is largely dependent on flexible teams that can operate with agility.

"During the early stages of COVID-19 many organisations and employees – through necessity – have had “deep dive” experiences with flexible ways of working. As we prepare to return to workplaces, and grapple with changing restrictions, now is the time to shift mindsets and behaviours around when, where, how and by whom work outcomes are achieved. In this new world of work, we can make bold moves on flexibility to accelerate change towards more gender equal, safe, inclusive and high performing organisations for all."

The paper contains a raft of practical actions which provide good take aways for all organisations - and there is a clear focus towards using the COVID -19 opportunity to embed the giant leap that has occurred in both the practice of, and attitude towards flexible working practices.

"A flexible mindset around work constructs - working hours, working weeks and workplaces - may help to drive faster business, economic and social recovery from COVID-19." the paper concludes.

Read the paper here.


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