Flexible work arrangements are more than just pyjama days at 🏡. So what exactly is flexible work and how do you go about requesting it from your employer? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Flexible work allows employees to create unique arrangements with their employers regarding their working conditions such as the number of hours worked, start and finish times and where you work. It allows you to be more productive and be less stressed by working where and when you work best.

“Flexible working allows me the privilege of not having to choose between working and being actively involved in the life of my family. I have a job that I love and I still get to attend special events at my children’s school and participate in parent-assisted activities. That’s work/life balance to me!”

Debbie Zaccaria, Payroll Specialist.

Can anyone request flexible working arrangements?

For the most part, yes. Employers must have a good business reason to turn down flexible working arrangements.

The Fair Work Ombudsman outlines a few examples of different reasons employees can use to request flexible work:

  • Parents responsible for a child of school age or younger
  • A carer under the Carer Recognition Act (2010)
  • An individual with a disability
  • Are an individual experiencing family or domestic violence, or are supporting and caring for someone in your immediate family.

What sort of flexible working arrangements can I request?

You can request to change the hours you work, so instead of working nine to five, you can work from seven in the morning until three p.m. so that you are available to pick up your child from school in the afternoon. Or if you have a long commute to your place of work, instead of wasting precious hours on the bus, you could organise with your employer to work remotely three days out of the working week and call-in for important meetings. It’s all about choice.

Job sharing is another great option for flexible working arrangements. Job sharing is when two or more employees work part-time to fulfill the requirements of a full-time job position. The employee benefits from the increased flexibility and reduced stress – optimal for raising a family or engaging in volunteer work – while the employer can retain their best and brightest employees, decreasing recruitment costs and minimising productivity loss.

Okay, this all sounds great! But how do I ask my employer for flexible working arrangements?

When approaching your boss about flexible working arrangements, you can bring it up more casually in your weekly 1:1 conversations or lodge a more formal request with the HR department, depending on your specific employee processes in place at work.

It’s important to be as clear as possible when approaching your employer about what you want. Chief People Officer, Alex Hattingh, recommends outlining how flexible work will improve your productivity and help your employer. Alex also suggests that as an employee you make clear how you plan to communicate and make yourself available to the team and the wider business while working from home.

Once you have requested flexible working arrangements, employers have twenty-one days to either approve or refuse your request. Proposals can only be refused on reasonable business grounds, such as too costly for the business, a potential negative impact on other employees or loss of productivity.

So at the end of the day, it’s down to what works best for you and your employer. So whether you’re a morning lark or a night owl, or prefer the privacy of your home to the structure of the office, you do you.