There are myth about flexible work that are preventing more of us from accessing it and/or being marginalised when we do, according to the Diversity Council of Australia.
Such myths can create a gap in who can and can’t access flexible work. They are discouraging some people from requesting such work, and creating a perception for some leaders and managers that flexible work is an inconvenience, rather than an opportunity.
Thankfully, the DCA has not only outlined the seven myths we’re facing, but also some key strategies for debunking them.
As DCA CEO Lisa Annese (pictured above) puts it, as long as these myths continue, flexible work and flexible careers will continue to be on “the margins”.
We’ve definitely heard this before: that flexible work is for “working mothers” or a place to park your career while you have caring responsibilities. And we’ve also seen the research that finds some fathers face penalties when requesting flexible work — and that many are put off by the idea of making the request in the first place.
Time to debunk the myths and normalise flexible work. Check out the list, provided by DCA, below.
- Flexibility is just an HR tool to help staff balance work-life
There is a mountain of evidence showing that workplace flexibility is actually a powerful business tool which maximises the performance and wellbeing of organisations, teams, and individuals.
- The ideal worker is full- time ‘face-time’
Flexible workers are as productive, if not more, than their non- flexible colleagues. E.g. women in flexible roles are the most productive employees. Men with high commitment to work but who create boundaries between work and home out-perform colleagues. Managers with care-giving responsibilities are rated by their staff as better managers and have more satisfied staff.
- Flexibility is just about accommodating an individual’s personal circumstances
Flexibility works best when it’s designed with the team in mind. It can empower employees to solve problems, increases teamwork, reciprocity and ownership of the solution, reduces management time, and speeds decision-making.
- Flexibility is just for new mums
Flexibility is for all workers for any reason including caring for dependents, personal development, community involvement, lifestyle reasons, to be an active grandparent etc. Evidence shows all workers as well as specific groups such as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples, men, older and younger workers want and need flexible work.
- Flexibility is just another word for part-time work
Flexibility is so much more than part time work. Flexible work is about when, where, and how work is conducted. Flexible careers are about enabling employees to enter, exit, and re-enter workforce, or increase or decrease their workload or career pace at different life stages.
- Flexible workers are less ambitious
Flexibility boosts workers’ career ambition as research shows that employees’ career aspirations increase when flexible work is provided.
- Flexibility doesn’t work in our backyard
There’s a huge body of research that shows that across all industries, job levels, and job types, flexibility drives financial performance and productivity, is linked to increased revenue, and impacts positively on client service. The secret to flexibility’s success is not picking the right industry, organisation or role – the secret is simply good design and implementation.