COVID-19 takes flexible working mainstream
“I think we need to look at creative, flexible work arrangements and how we can create an inclusive culture for all genders.” – Jodi Geddes, Co-founder and Director at Circle In
Jodi Geddes, Co-founder and Director at Circle In
COVID-19 has changed how people want to work and flexibility looks here to stay, according to the latest research by Melbourne-based workplace parental-engagement platform, Circle In and Beam Australia.
The global survey* shows 97 per cent of men and women want the freedom to work flexibly when COVID-19 restrictions are over.
Jodi Geddes, Co-founder and Director at Circle In says, “Employees now want to define where they work, when they work and they want the ability to reduce their working hours, if needed.
“People told us they would like a mix of working from home and the office, no commute and the ability to spend more time with family in future,” she says.
Jodi Geddes spoke with Shayne Elliott, CEO at ANZ on a recent update to ANZ employees in Australia. Below is an edited transcript of the webcast conversation.
Shayne Elliott: What have your clients been struggling with most?
Jodi Geddes: There's no doubt companies are struggling to deal with the rate of change and we all know remote working has become mainstream overnight. But what we're really seeing is it is changing employees’ demands and expectations of their employer.
And we know leaders make a huge difference to the employee experience and they also play a vital role in supporting their teams to work flexibly.
“Now more than ever companies need to be supporting their managers with the right tools and resources to better support their employees,” Jodi says.
Shayne Elliott: What are the practical hints and tips you can share that might help working parents who are juggling home and work responsibilities?
Jodi Geddes: It’s about setting and managing expectations both at work and at home. From a work perspective, set the expectations with your manager. Be clear on what you need, how you want to work, but more importantly, how can your manager support you right now?
The juggle is harder than ever. And on the home front, have the conversation with your partner. What does your daily schedule look like? Who's doing pick up? What does your call schedule look like?
Shayne Elliott: In your experience and particularly through this COVID world, are there any trends or common pitfalls for leaders? And is there any advice you can provide to all the leaders on how they can do a better job supporting their teams?
Jodi Geddes: Leaders are critical to making flexibility work. But we know a lot aren’t equipped to make flexible teams lead to outcomes. So leaders now require a new mindset and skillset.
It's not about telling your team what flexibility is and isn't. It's about showing your team. And it's the same as if you said something to your kids. We all know that if you want your kids to adopt new things, you need to demonstrate it. As they pick up more on how you do it, how you act and what you say.
Shayne Elliott: Now, there's no doubt this entire experience is going to change our perspectives on many things. There were some leaders who were quite resistant to their teams working from home. I think in reality, we know these things can work. But we have to adapt right? We can't use the same old tools.
Do you think the COVID-19 experience will be an equaliser for parents? There's some commentary - probably unsurprisingly, but certainly sadly - that the reality is a lot of the juggling has fallen on women at home.
Jodi Geddes: Yes, I do. And I think this whole experience has proven that anyone and everyone can work differently And it will equalise all genders to play a more caring role.
Looking at our research and this has been really exciting to see, 53% of partners have played a more active role at home during COVID. But further to that, 52% now want to play a more active role ongoing. So, there's no doubt we're going to see real change as a result.
I think we need to look at creative, flexible work arrangements and how we can create an inclusive culture for all genders.
Shayne Elliott: There’s clearly going to be quite a permanent shift required in the way that people approach pretty much everything in their lives.
“We truly believe having a career and being a parent are not mutually exclusive,” Jodi says.
Circle In is a workplace parental-engagement platform that helps employers support working parents. It provides resources, online coaching and personalised programs for parents, managers and HR that facilitate productivity and connection. Jodi established Circle In after experiencing firsthand the challenge of feeling disconnected from her workplace and losing confidence after having her first baby.
*Beam Australia and Circle In online survey, May 2020: Flexibility and the Future of Work post-COVID.
Beyond COVID-19: the workplace of the future