Over the last few years, technology has reduced the cost and increased the fidelity of remote communication, making it possible to seamlessly collaborate with anyone from anywhere in the world. The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic with its associated lockdowns and social distancing made working remotely a necessity, changing the nature of the workplace forever.
Flexible work arrangements (also known as offsite work, working from home or teleworking) allow organisations to continue operating through social distancing measures, but also provide benefits for organisations, employees, the environment and the economy.
Research shows that employees want to maintain the autonomy, flexibility and focus that working at home during the pandemic brought, whilst at the same time want to reclaim the team collaboration, creativity and culture benefits that come from face-to-face time.
72% of workers want a mix of remote and in-person working
90% of Australians want a mix of working from home in some capacity
Source: PWC Hopes and Fears 2021 survey of 32,500 people across 19 countries.
Setting up for truly effective hybrid working, characterised by a mixture of working remotely and working in an office, is a great opportunity to rebuild our workplaces so that teams can thrive no matter where they are located.
What constitutes hybrid working?
Hybrid (remote first)
Hybrid (co-located first)
|Remote working means individuals being in different physical locations (e.g. at home, which may be in different cities)
|By default, everyone works remotely from anywhere, however there are occasions when everyone comes together (e.g. at a local office) to work and/or socialise in person.
|By default, everyone works from the same physical location (e.g. an office) however there are flexibilities in place which allow people to work from home or other cities (whether travelling for work or personal reasons).
|Co-located working means working with your team together in the same physical location (e.g. office).
A team with members in various cities across the country with no specific or shared physical location between the team members
Tax auditors who are typically on the road work in a "remote first" arrangement. They come together in the office sometimes, however the majority of their work is conducted away from each other
Any government agency providing a flexible working arrangement currently falls into this category.
Front-line customer service staff who work out of the same office and are considered on leave when they're not in the office space.
Benefits to staff
- service delivery continues in a socially distanced environment
- a positive work/life balance
- higher productivity levels
- greater job satisfaction
- social inclusion opportunities for people who struggle to work in a traditional setting, like regional and remote workers, people with disabilities or illness, and people with carer responsibilities.
Benefits to employers
- Continuous service delivery
Hybrid work means not-for-profit organisations can continue to deliver core services through periods of social distancing.
- Wider recruitment options
With one of the fastest growing workforces in Australia, community and not-for-profit organisations can tap into a wider labour pool.
- Attracting and retaining talent
Offering flexible work practices can help not-for-profit and community organisations compete with private sector counterparts in recruiting talent. Flexible work can improve job satisfaction and reduce burnout for employees with stressful, high-workload jobs.
- Workplace diversity
Community organisations are committed to social responsibility, workplace diversity and equal rights. And a diverse community-focused workforce can help achieve more effective service delivery and foster a more resourceful, problem-solving culture.
Remote work can save money on infrastructure costs and other overheads and lead to higher productivity and lower rates of absenteeism.
Remote work can be applied on a case-by-case basis with varying budgets. A community organisation can assess their own needs and apply work arrangements accordingly.
- Social inclusion
By adopting more inclusive work practices, community organisations are supporting the people they serve.
How to assess whether a role can be performed remotely
For highly collaborative jobs or jobs that require face-to-face contact, remote working may be unsuitable. To see whether it's right for your organisation, ask:
- What kind of work is performed in this role?
- Can the employee perform their day-to-day tasks online and on the phone?
- Will time working outside the workplace impact the quality of the work?
- Will a limited amount of face-to-face contact with managers/other colleagues impact work quality or productivity?
If, after an assessment of your workforce, tasks and mission, you’ve committed to implementing hybrid work in your organisation, you’ll need to decide what kind of work arrangements will work best for your organisation.
It is critical to have the right infrastructure to support staff working remotely, no matter the arrangement. No matter where it is, a remote workspace should be as practical and functional as any other office workspace and must comply with workplace health and safety guidelines and policies. This includes:
- furniture and space
- freedom from distractions
- internet connection