Making flexible working the new normal
There aren’t many upsides to be found in a global pandemic – clearly an enormous tragedy for so many families and communities.
According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), nearly three quarters (73%) of Australian organisations – 60% in the education and training sector – now have flexible working strategies and policies in place.
Yet despite a few high profile notable exceptions, many workplaces have found it hard to mainstream flexible work.
This is difficult to understand given the enormous volume of evidence supporting the business case for flexible work. Organisations like Diversity Council Australia, WGEA and Chief Executive Women have been documenting this evidence over many years now. And more recently tools have been developed to model the financial benefits of flexible working in individual organisations.
But making a shift remains a challenge in many teams and organisations and perhaps the current global health crisis might just provide the impetus to make that shift a little easier.
At UTS, like in many other organisations, we are undertaking a variety of measures to ensure the health and safety of everyone in our community.
These include adopting public health recommendations for students and staff who may be at high risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) due to travel or having been in contact with others who have the disease to stay at home. UTS advice also encourages staff who are unwell to stay home, and those with underlying medical conditions which may place them at greater risk (such as people with heart or lung disease, pregnant women, young children, the elderly and those with a suppressed immune system) to work remotely.
Our university has a range of established options in place to support flexible and remote working. These are available for staff on an ongoing basis, but are also incredibly helpful in situations where staff need to work remotely due to events like the current crisis, and during the recent bushfires and floods. More information about these options and how they can work for you and your team is available in guides and toolkits developed by the Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion.
UTS is strongly committed to fostering a culture that makes flexible work available for all staff. By offering a wide range of options, we aim to not only support work/life balance for individual staff, but also achieve our strategic objectives of promoting new ways of working and supporting a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace.
However we also need the tools to enable remote working to work! By adopting the Microsoft Office 365 across the university, all staff now have access to a range of cloud based apps including email, Teams and Planner which support a wide range of collaborations.
This system provides the capability for staff to:
- Work anywhere, any time, on any device - the apps are accessible from anywhere including your mobile devices and each UTS staff member can use Office 365 on 5 devices. And the OneDrive cloud storage space offers you improved access to your files both within and outside UTS.
- Save time by updating documents when travelling or commuting
- Collaborate better by co-authoring documents, collaborating in real-time and via video conferencing.
The LXLab is also continuing to update information about recommended tools and technologies for teaching staff to support students studying remotely.
The technologies might not yet be ready to entirely replace the office and classroom, and there may be some downsides to working from home. But the rapid adoption of flexible working is becoming part of the world-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Use this opportunity to find out about how you can make flexible working work for you and your team!