Flexible work offers many benefits, from greater engagement to improved wellbeing for employees. Especially for parents, a workplace that supports flexibility around work hours and the deliverables of their role can alleviate the challenges in balancing responsibilities at home and at work with their physical and mental wellbeing. We’re proud to be in the one-third of Australian businesses who champion a flexible working model to help our team perform at their best. We spoke to our expert partner Stephanie Reuss from Beam Australia and TOM Co General Manager Brooke Franklin about how flexible work arrangements can be mutually beneficial to both employers and employees.
At the TOM Co (which is the HQ for both TOM Organic and tooshies by TOM), we believe flexible work is essential to a happy, healthy and productive workplace, which is why we offer flexible work options to all of our employees, not only new parents. As a 100 per cent female team of almost 25 women, with the majority being mums and part-time workers, we’ve always adopted a flexible approach to work, and this year we shifted to an outcomes (not hours) based model.
Our expert partner Stephanie Reuss from Beam Australia, a tech company that specialise in flexible jobs, talent and ways of working, along with TOM Co General Manager Brooke Franklin, share some key insights into flexible work arrangements and how they can offer a wide range of benefits to both employers and employees.
What does ‘flexible working arrangements’ mean?
Steph: Flexibility means different things to different people and when done well, can be game-changing for integrating life and work. It can refer to when you work, for example, reduced or non-traditional hours; how you work, such as ad hoc flexible needs or minimum travel; and where you work, including blended between the office and home, working from home or completely remote.
Brooke: At TOM, we’ve built a “perform at your best” model, meaning team members are measured on outcomes and not restricted to an hours model like 9-5pm to deliver their job results. We have people working two days, three days, four days or in various capacities across key projects. We don’t schedule core meetings outside of 10-3pm, and we expect people to be around if a critical meeting is scheduled in these times, but if it isn’t and they want to duck to a yoga class, and work later that night, they can.
Why is flexible work important?
Brooke: It’s essential, not just important. In reality, we don’t live in a world that supports a conventional work model. Kids don’t have four weeks of school holidays and most of the time a full-time role only gets four weeks’ annual leave, so already that is out of balance for the working parent. Maybe someone has study they want to complete or a sick parent they need to support, and if we can help people balance their kids, passions and lives a little better, then we find the commitment and ownership on delivering results is much stronger.
How does flexible work benefit both employers and employees?
Brooke: The benefits are clear in four areas:
- The first is financial – splitting a senior role across two people over four days can get you two brains and leadership styles across projects, but reduce overall salaries. As a medium-sized business we sometimes don’t need 38 hours in one function, so having smaller loads across more people can really support keeping labour focused on the essential things that deliver results.
- The second is talent attraction. It’s pretty hard to put a price on flexibility, but people are valuing it more than money. This means we can hire talent who have more experience, and maybe demanded a higher salary somewhere else, but really value flexibility. All of our senior director team work four days to support other passions or family alongside their senior roles in finance, ecommerce, export, marketing, sales and logistics.
- The third benefit is retention. People leave roles when their desires to grow don’t match the opportunities presented by the business they’re working with. Growth comes in many different ways, so supporting someone to work remotely from another state, or allow them some additional time each week to do an MBA, or take an extra few weeks to travel can mean we keep them instead of them having to resign.
- Productivity and delivery of results is another key benefit. Flexibility is given when people deliver, so the drive and desire to maintain this is high, and you’ll find less people shuffling papers, setting up lengthy meetings or trying to fill their 9-5pm just to prove their roles should exist.
What kinds of businesses offer flexible work arrangements?
Steph: So many awesome employers come to Beam looking for talent. Like us, many are B-Corps, as well as other forward-thinking companies and purpose-led organisations who are passionate about social impact.
What do flexible employers look for in potential hires?
Steph: Many of the businesses we work with closely with are small to medium-sized enterprises, using part-time or flexibility as a way to grow. We often hear that they’d like someone who is highly experienced, but also has a real willingness to roll up their sleeves, not take themselves too seriously, and be adaptable and change with the business needs.
Interested in reading more? Read how Daisy Pearce navigated the return to work.