What sort of flexibility suits you?

We have written before about flexible workplaces and its many benefits for both employer and employee.  You can read those articles here (http://empirecareers.com.au/how-flexible-is-your-work-place/).  Formal flexibility is not for every employee, yet informal flexible work arrangements can work for everyone.  With the rush of modern life, we all seem to have more and more responsibilities, pulling us in every direction.  And let’s be honest not all medical specialists take appointments outside of normal office hours!work life balance

In best practice, formal flexible work is covered by a written policy, but informal flexible work is an attitude and approach rather than a formal process requiring forms to be filled out.

In truly flexible workplaces, informal, infrequent requests for flexibility do not require changes to your terms of employment and are arranged between you and your supervisor.   These are usually one-off or irregular occurrences.  Some examples of informal flexibility might include:

  • Starting late to attend a child’s first day of school (employers please note this is a really cool thing to do for your staff)
  • Leaving work early to attend a special school concert or medical appointment
  • Working from home occasionally to complete a project without any distractions
  • Working non-standard hours on occasion  (allowing a later start or earlier finish) to accommodate an external commitment (e.g. specialist medical appointment)
  • Being given time off in lieu for working significant overtime on a project
  • Allowing brief time off to observe significant religious or spiritual festivals
  • For non-parents, emergency veterinary visits
  • Allowing longer lunch breaks for special occasions
  • Early finish times ahead of long weekends or the Christmas break

Where informal flexible work practices are provided to you, it is important to remember the fact that the principle of reciprocity applies – that is, when you have the chance to give back to your employer, or your work colleagues, you should do so.  Some employers may require the time to be made up – if that is the case make sure you do this as soon as practicable, as this will develop trust and respect.

Even where formal flexible work is provided, it does not have to be permanent – it can be very short term or temporary. For example:

  • Working part-time or flexible hours while undergoing treatment for serious illness – radiation or other treatments may need to be undertaken on a regular basis at the same time every day for a set period of time
  • Working part-time to assist a close relative with a serious illness – eldercare is becoming a more pressing issue for baby boomers
  • Returning to work after serious illness or injury that is not work related – a formal return to work program is required if your injury is work related, but if you have been ill, or have had an accident, you might need to consider reduced hours before returning to work full time.

We all crave the ability to manage our many responsibilities – having a flexible workplace and a commitment to work hard at making it work will ensure we are all able to do this.