There’s a certain stigma still stubbornly attached to work flexibility. It is the belief that mostly (if not only) working mothers are the ones who are in desperate need for flexibility in how they work. And that’s simply not true.
One company in Australia is tackling this issue head-on, dispelling the belief that only working mamas want flex. In the video below, “Workplace Flexibility: The Business Case,” Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, Mirvac CEO and Managing Director, leads a discussion on the face of flexible work today.
Here’s how Mirvac is making flexibility an all-for-one and one-for-all environment.
Management buys in to the idea of flex.
A big believer in a flex-friendly work environment, Lloyd-Hurwitz says that when she leaves work at the end of the day, she does so…loudly. “If I signal that I can go home then other people can go home too.” By showing workers that it’s okay to leave work on time, they will be more likely to go home at a decent hour—and be able to have better work-life balance as a result.
Working parents are praised.
Going home to take care of your child is something to be praised, not punished, according to Lloyd-Hurwitz. “When male executives say they are going home to babysit, I say, ‘No, you’re not, you’re parenting. That’s what you do for other people’s children.’” Not only does this remove the stigma that only working mothers are the ones running home to tend to children, but it helps support working dads in the workplace, too.
Workers who are reticent to work remotely are persuaded to do so.
Lloyd-Hurwitz recalls the time she was speaking to an employee who had a lengthy commute about the idea of telecommuting. He said that he couldn’t make that work because of his team. She reminded him that he travels for work and his team is still able to function. A year later, she says, that same employee works one day a week remotely—and his team is still fine.
Steps are being taken to prepare employees for the transition.
In the video, Lloyd-Hurwitz mentions that her company is moving to new offices. But here’s the catch: They will only have 80 percent of the desks they currently have, under the assumption that people will be working in different areas and in different ways. Currently the company has 10 percent of its workforce on a formal flexible working arrangement and another 30 percent have some sort of informal flexible working arrangement.
In addition, Mirvac has a prototype of the new premises in their existing location and are running teams through the prototype to give them the tools to learn how to work flexibly and how they can use the new space.
The company understands the benefits of flexible work—for both parties.
Some employers still think that flex is for workers, not for them. But at Mirvac, the company has seen first-hand how flex benefits the organization, too. Staff engagement surveys found that those who work flexibly are 20 percent more engaged. Says Lloyd-Hurwitz, “And we know that staff engagement is the single most important predictor of company performance.”
Their workers are being given the tools for success.
To ensure the success of their workers, Mirvac has made a big investment in technology. “We rolled out 1000 laptops and made sure that people had all the connectivity that they need to support the way that the company works,” says Lloyd-Hurwitz. Giving teams the tools and time to learn how to work remotely helps ensure success.
At Mirvac, people are having conversations about flexible working, and shifting the discussion from flexibility for working mothers to flexibility for everyone.
“This is not feel-good fluffy stuff,” says Lloyd-Hurwitz. “This is a really clear business imperative of why this absolutely works.”