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Beyond working from home: encouraging flexibility in tech

There's no doubt that flexible working arrangements make a huge difference to your workforce. As a Diversitas study reports, 71 per cent of employers who offer formal flexibility reported a positive impact on employee commitment and engagement. A further 67 per cent said it improved staff performance and productivity, while 62 per cent reported lower staff turnover.

Going beyond working from home

Not only will introducing flexibility provide a boost to your company culture and performance, you'll also be showing your commitment to diversity - something that tech businesses have often struggled with in the past. With women still bearing the brunt of childcare, the flexibility to swap hours around school pick-up times and other family commitments is greatly valued, and also increases the pool of talent you're able to hire from.

Committing to flexible work is all well and good, however it can be difficult in a technology business. Often, you'll be working with equipment and software that's both niche and expensive. This means work from home schemes - one of the most popular flexibility arrangements according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics - can be difficult to implement. However, there are many other, equally effective flexible work provisions you can put in place.

1. Flexible hours

As long as your employees are doing the required number of hours a day, why should it matter whether they work nine-to-five? If you have staff members who want to be able to watch their children play rugby after school, or simply have something on one day, allowing them to come to the office early, or leave late, will be greatly appreciated. If you have employees who will need to do this regularly, set up a meeting with them or even talk it over in their job interview. Show your staff that you're willing to make it as easy as possible for them to keep to their other commitments.

Likewise, you might be able to condense your employees' hours. For instance, if they normally have to do a 40-hour week spread over five days, suggest to them they do four 10-hour days instead, leaving one day where they don't have to come into work at all.

2. Job share

This involves having two part-time employees sharing the role of one, full-time member of staff. This can be extremely effective, but does require a lot of collaboration between the two employees. However, if you define each role from the outset, and ensure they know exactly which tasks they're supposed to be doing, this type of flexible working arrangement can result in great outcomes both for you and your staff.

3) Childcare or aged care provisions

If you've got the money to do it, your employees will be extremely happy if you offer them provisions for childcare, or aged care if they look after an older or sick relative. This is something you can put in your job adverts to attract as wide a pool of people as possible. Even if you don't quite have the budget to provide this, asking around to find out where other employees send their children for daycare and writing a list of suitable, nearby centres will save new parents a lot of time and stress.

Flexible working arrangements are easy to implement, but make a huge difference to your employees' lives. With work-life balance currently an important consideration for the mental health and happiness of the workforce, it's these sorts of measures that will help you stand out as an employer.

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