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Flexible working and the new normal


“What we realised was the technology's been available for flexible working for a long time. The mindset hasn't. And when I say mindset, let's call it what it is. It's trust - many senior leaders have had this view that line of sight equals productivity, equals people working.” – Dom Price

Watch the video above to see the full conversation or click here to read the transcript.


In early 2020 companies all around the world quickly moved employees to remote working. While some industries were already embracing flexible working practices, COVID-19 propelled most into the future at a rapid rate of knots.


But is the physical shift the only change occurring in our workplaces or are there other, less tangible transitions at play?


In this chapter of ANZ’s new ‘Wellbeing Conversation’ series, Paralympic Gold Medallist Dylan Alcott, mental health advocate Brad McEwan, ANZ Chief Technology Officer Gerard Florian, Work Futurist and Head of Research and Development at Atlassian, Dom Price and feedback expert Georgia Murch discuss how the pandemic has impacted how we work, what it means for companies and individuals and what a ‘new normal’ could look like.


As a leader in the tech space, Gerard encouraged his team to see the challenges of COVID as an opportunity to get stronger and approach things differently. “I think it is about a headspace to say these things are sent to try us,” he says. “We don't want them to happen. But now they have, what we do next counts the most.”



Georgia agrees and says companies who are managing well are choosing a mindset shift.  “What if this is happening for us, not to us? And it just throws you out of (the) victim space and throws you into learning opportunities,” she says.


“And it's those organisations, those individuals that actually can thrive that can do really well in these times. But at the moment, it's a head game. Once you get this right. Everything else comes along.”


For Dom those honest conversations also involve companies asking themselves “why didn’t we move to remote working sooner? What are the human to human practises needed to actually make this work? And how do we make sure we take everyone along?”.


“What we realised was the technology's been available for flexible working for a long time. The mindset hasn't. And when I say mindset, let's call it what it is. It's trust - many senior leaders have had this view that line of sight equals productivity, equals people working.” - Dom Price


Level playing field


Ensuring no one is left behind is vitally important in the shift to flexible working. Dylan believes for people with disability, it’s been a leveller and is leading to greater inclusivity.


“As somebody with a disability, we've been crying out for flexible working forever,” he says. “So many people I know in my community have always said, look, I can get in the office for three days, but for one or two days I need to work from home because of my extra care needs, because I can't get in there because I don't have a carer. And employers previously have been like, that means you might not get the job because we can't (physically) see you doing work.”


“The increase in flexible working space has been so critical to helping people not only striving for the economy to grow, but also maybe shining a light on some things that we didn't really think about.” – Dylan Alcott


Dylan believes a certain level of trust has prevented progress. “How long have people had a sniffle and forced themselves to go to work when they haven't been productive as opposed to being trusted working from home and contributing to that organisation?”


“That shift in our mindset to finding ways this can benefit all of us and our organisations is so important,” he says.


Gerard believes that shift has been accelerated. “Whether that's around those flexible work agreements or the sheer focus within corporates around the importance of wellbeing, the importance of awareness, the roles that leaders play, all of that is getting amplified.”


What is the “new normal”?


Working remotely through a global pandemic means adapting to a new environment, balancing the ever-changing demands of home and work life and managing an array of distractions.  And while remote workforces present many opportunities, Georgia believes we're missing the energy of being together.


“We're lacking physical connection. And that's actually part of how we're wired as humans,” she says.  “We're actually wired to be with each other.”


And although it appears this way of working and interacting is normal for now, Dom believes every day is the new normal. “I've been a futurist for years. And the thing I laugh about is people asking for predictions,” he says.  “You get to create your own future every single day when you wake up.”


“I'm going to promise you you're not going to be able to predict it. So how about you just evolve a little bit every day? And that evolution will enable you to stay relevant.  The most relevant businesses today - look at Netflix as an example - bears very little resemblance to the original version of itself. They've evolved every single day,” he says.


“A senior leader said to me - we need to build an 18-month plan for our new normal. Three months ago COVID didn't exist so an 18 month plan is already a waste of time. There's no way of getting that right. So how do you break it down to more manageable chunks and actually reward and recognise progress over perfection?” – Dom Price


Where to go for help


Please remember you are not alone.


If you, or someone you know needs help or support, please go to BeyondBlue.org.au or call 1300 22 46 36. Beyond Blue has a range of resources to help support people’s mental wellbeing during COVID.


You can also contact Lifeline at LifeLine.org.au or call 13 11 14.


ANZ’s Employee Assistance Program is available for support services for ANZ employees and immediate family members. Please visit www.benestar.com or call 1300 360 364.


For ANZ employees outside of Australia in need of help or support please see ANZ’s intranet site MAX for details of your local employee assistance program.


For information on other services that can assist with navigating difficult circumstances visit anz.com.au


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