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Implementing flexible work practices—tips for managers

Understand your role

As a manager, you play a crucial role in facilitating workplace flexibility. Managers translate flexible work policy into practice; they need to implement flexible work arrangements that work for both the worker and the employer. Implementing flexible work practices challenges managers to:

  • think strategically about flexible work
  • identify and negotiate flexible solutions
  • redesign jobs, tasks and work processes to support flexible work practices
  • manage complex logistics for meetings, rosters and client coverage
  • monitor workloads
  • supervise remote workers
  • support staff and manage their performance
  • communicate effectively with teams and colleagues
  • manage change1.

Tailor flexible work solutions to individuals

You need to consider the flexibility individuals’ need against their job requirements. Don’t assume a one size fits all approach. Just because a particular flexible work arrangement works for one member of the team, does not mean it is the best solution for another. Consult with the worker to determine the type of flexible arrangement that will best meet both their needs, and those of the organisation.

Be creative

When thinking about possible flexible work options, think beyond what has been done before and try out something new. This may require changes to the way work is currently performed and the status quo at work may be upset. Take a long-term view of the situation and focus on communicating the benefit to the organisation from implementing the flexible work arrangement.

Focus on work outcomes

‘Presence does not equal performance’, Equality and Human Rights Commission, A manager's guide to flexible working.

Make the work objectives, outputs and outcomes the focus of supervision activities for staff who are working flexibly. This may involve setting closely defined objectives within specific timeframes and scheduling frequent formal updates to review progress2.

Communicate and consult with the team

Managers need to talk to the whole team about any proposed flexible work arrangements and discuss possible impacts on others, such as how work is organised and performed. Work together to find solutions to potential problems, where possible. Manage the expectations of the team to make sure tailored flexible work arrangements are accepted and welcomed.

Prepare for the challenges of implementing flexible work practices

Think about the specific workplace challenges and changes involved in implementing each flexible work arrangement. This will help to identify the tasks and activities required to support its implementation. Understanding and proactively addressing the implications for the workplace helps managers ensure the success of flexible work arrangements.

For more information:

Australian Institute of Management - White paper - Managing in a flexible work environment.

Page last updated: 08 Jun 2017