Workplace flexibility is ‘not a free ride’

Flexible working is more than just letting people work from home – there are costs to set it up and benefits to implementing it, but you can’t do it ad hoc – that’s the advice from Nous Group’s Perth-based Principal Craig Knox Lyttle.

Knox Lyttle will discuss research and give examples of flexible workplaces at the CCIWA Workplaces Relations Conference on April 4 in his keynote ‘Flexible workplaces: From intuition to evidence’.

Nous Group is a management consulting firm with more than 350 people in Australia and the United Kingdom, and Knox Lyttle has 25 years of global transformation experience across a number of sectors as a consultant and industry executive.

“People sometimes view it is a free ride and think ‘oh we can get people to work from home and then save on office space’ but that’s not quite how it works,” Knox Little says.

“There are other factors that you need to change in the way you do things including additional asks of management in managing people more flexibly, IT expenses, employee backfill and all sorts of things that are kind of a bit hidden.

“So we’ve done some work to bring that out into the foreground and think about it more openly and transparently.”

Knox Lyttle advises not rushing in to flexible working with a “bunch of policies without considering the full ramifications”.

“If you can quantify your benefits up front you can get the investment money from your boss to make it happen, that’s really the message,” he says.

He says the other end of the spectrum is to move to a fully self-managed organisation where people manage their own time, where and how they work and are focused on achieving outcomes.

Knox Lyttle has experienced such a workplace since joining Nous Group, an early adopter of the self-managed operating model, about two years ago and says it is one of the reasons he was attracted to the company.

“We don’t care what time people start work. It’s not an issue at all. There’s some norms around working but quite often we’ll get an email from people saying wfh (working from home), that’s it,” he says.

“Or we’ll work with clients, so they will be wherever they need to be. If they leave early to pick the kids up and work later at night or they are a night owl and like working at night and you won’t expect to see them until 10am, then I am literally indifferent to that.”

Hear more from Knox Lyttle about the latest trends in flexible in flexible/atypical working; costs and benefits to adopting flexible working; impacts on staff of moving from traditional to flexible working arrangements; and what factors need to be considered when designing a working environment that supports flexible working in his full keynote.

The conference, which has the theme ‘The road ahead: Preparing for uncertainty’, will also feature an update on enterprise agreements by Fair Work Commission Deputy President Abbey Beaumont and employment relations challenges by University of Technology Research Director Sarah Kaine.

► Get up to date on the hottest topics in workplace relations from some of the country’s top experts. Tickets available now, find out more here.

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