The world is changing rapidly, and the workplace is struggling to keep up, but the businesses that adapt the quickest, will thrive. That’s why we’ve partnered with Juggle Strategies, a consultancy that helps organisations successfully implement flexible work practices.
The cultural shift from ‘nine-to-five’ to ‘whenever & wherever’ is not always an easy one to make, which is why Maja Paleka, Kate Kesby and Rebecca Sebastian established the consultancy – to smooth the transition, and help organisations unlock the benefits.
In the coming weeks, we’ll be launching a whitepaper together entitled ‘Re-thinking Workplace Flexibility – The business case for flexible working practices.’ For now, however, we thought we’d introduce you to the team, so we sent Maja, Kate and Rebecca a few question, and this is their collective response
A: What inspired you to set up a business based on flexibility?
JS: All three directors of the business have lived and breathed ‘the juggle’. We have all worked for organisations that implemented flexibility extremely well, and those that didn’t quite get it right. And we know from our own experiences, the difference it can make in people’s lives when it becomes embedded in a company’s culture.
The most challenging and interesting cases were the organisations that in principle, wanted to support their staff to work flexibly. They had a policy, but unfortunately, it never translated into reality. The support and training for the staff and front line leaders wasn’t there, and a genuine commitment from the executive team was never secured.
This situation seems to repeat throughout corporate Australia, so eventually, we decided to intervene and try to make a difference.
We are deeply passionate about the outcomes of flexible working practices. Keeping women meaningfully engaged in workplaces, and changing the cultural landscape for dads too. So they don’t feel excluded from the workforce when they want to play a greater role in caring for their families. Flexibility also enables the “sandwich generation” to successfully care for their ageing parents, and indeed everyone, to juggle all of those priorities in life that require time and attention.
A: What’s the biggest obstacle to companies adopting flexible working practices today?
JS: It is cultural constructs in society, and organisations, that mainly stand in the way. There is still a prevalent notion that control is needed over those we manage and lead. That people need hand holding as they process their deliverables. The notion then extends to the fact that the easiest way to do that, is to ‘see’ them.
We have also been comfortable for years about letting work encroach on our personal lives. On the flip side, we’re not so good acknowledging our personal lives – which are just as important -, and should be considered in the way we work.
A: What can be done about it?
JS: We need to bring business to the point where they have open conversations in their organisations about trust, what that means, and how it can change the way they lead their people. They need to see how focusing on outcomes, and trusting their staff can deliver incredible results.
Then we need to spend time breaking the current biases, and equipping the managers with the skill sets to manage staff they cannot see, and to learn how to let go.
We also believe the national conversation is important, as it will impact the shift in the cultural biases we have today, and the low importance we place on care.
A: How long do you think it will be until flexibility is the norm?
JS: It ‘s difficult to say, but it really depends on how much we as a society decide this is important. Issues like gender equality and our commitment to addressing it will help drive the change, as will the influx of the millennial generation into the workplace.
The reality is that the big end of town and the start-up world are definitely supporting it. Many new, and leading edge, companies don’t know how to work any other way apart from flexibly. So hopefully, it’s not too long before the ‘nine to five’ is a distant memory.
A: If you hadn’t set up this business, what would you be doing?
JS: We had a lengthy discussion over this question, as it is a difficult one to answer. We all feel that we have found something that is a non-negotiable part of our lives now. We are so deeply passionate about flexibility as a tool to deliver incredible results (to business and the people within) that we really couldn’t picture ourselves doing anything else.
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