At Macquarie, we recognise that our staff have responsibilities and commitments outside of work. We believe that by providing flexibility in when, where and how work is done, where possible, we can support our staff manage their personal commitments, while at the same time optimising their work performance and contributions to the University.
For this reason, Macquarie University has the Flexible Work Policy and Procedure and encourages flexible work at every level of the organisation where possible. At the heart of our flexible work strategy is our commitment to creating an outcome-based, engaged, diverse and productive workplace.
Are you considering flexible work?
Has your work or personal life changed lately? Are you thinking of requesting adjustments to your current work arrangements? There may be a range of circumstances when you may consider changing to a flexible work arrangement, for example you may be caring for children, elderly parents or other dependants; managing your health and wellbeing; transitioning to retirement; dealing with a family issue; doing some charity work or volunteering; or taking some time to study.
If you are thinking about requesting a flexible work arrangement:
- Consider your situation and outcomes you want to achieve. Are there particular hours and days that would make a difference to your work-life balance? Would it work best for you to work in the office or away from the office some days? How long will you need these adjustments for?
- Make time to review the Flexible Work Policy and Procedure and the information on this site.
- Consider what arrangements could meet your needs and explore what might best fit your work area’s needs.
- Be prepared to sit down and discuss your situation and possible outcomes with your manager. It is good practice to let your manager know in advance that your needs are changing and you would like to request a flexible work arrangement.
Explore what Macquarie offers
If you are a permanent or fixed-term academic or professional staff member, you are eligible to request a flexible work arrangement.
There are a number of flexible work options available at Macquarie University, but whether or not they are an option in every case depends on individual circumstances and work areas. It is important to speak to your manager to work out the best possible solution that will balance both your individual needs and what is manageable for the work area at the same time.
Typical flexible work options at Macquarie are outlined in the Flexible Work Policy and Procedure and include:
Part-time work is the most common type of flexible working. Part-time work covers any arrangement where the staff member works anything less than typical full-time hours.
Part-time work can be a consideration either at recruitment or at any point during employment with Macquarie. A staff member may request to reduce working hours because their work and life balance has changed for some reason. They might be returning from parental leave, caring for sick family members, studying or easing into retirement. They might be full-time and wanting to move to part-time, or they might already be part-time and wanting to reduce their position fraction further.
Changing position fraction from full-time to part-time as part of flexible work is a temporary arrangement - up to 3 years or longer if agreed with the manager. This means the staff member’s substantive/permanent position will remain as full time.
It is important to discuss and agree on the reasonable notice period (e.g. 2-4 weeks) in case the staff member requests to revert their part-time arrangement back to full-time earlier than planned. This is particularly important when someone else has been recruited to job share or cover the unused fraction.
See Flexible Work Policy and Procedure for more information on part-time work.
Job share is an employment arrangement where two (or more) staff members, working part-time, share all the duties and responsibilities of a full-time position. They also share the pay and benefits in proportion to the hours each works.
Job share arrangements have a number of benefits, including having a wider range of skills and perspectives in the team, and having better coverage of the job when one of the job sharers is on leave.
Successful job sharing depends to a large extent on the partnership between the people sharing the role. Employees need to work well as a team and think about how their working styles complement each other.
See Flexible Work Policy and Procedure for more information on job share.
Flexible start and finish times
This option means that a staff member starts and finishes at different times to normal business hours within the work area.
Flexible start and finish times can help staff accommodate responsibilities outside the workplace and reduce travel time/ travel costs where travelling outside peak hours is possible.
A work area can set core hours where a staff member is required to be at work, and the rest can be flexible (provided the staff member works their contracted hours each fortnight). The number and times of the core hours in a specific work unit will be determined by business need and nature of work (for example, if the work is customer driven) and may vary during the year according to operational needs.
It is recommended to have a written record of an agreement, at least on email. If a staff member is requesting start and finish times significantly outside core hours and on a regular basis, a formal process as outlined in the Flexible Work Policy and Procedure should be followed.
An agreed regular working pattern where a staff member works their ordinary fortnightly hours compressed into a shorter period.
This can be achieved by working longer but fewer blocks of time, for example a 70 hour fortnight may be worked at a rate of 7 hours 45 mins per day for nine business days.
At Macquarie, this options is also referred to as Variable Working Hours Scheme or 9-day-fortnight.
Requests for compressed fortnight working arrangements should follow a formal process as outlined in the Flexible Work Policy and Procedure.
Working from home / telecommuting
An arrangement where a staff member performs some of their duties from home or away from their usual work location. The evolution of workplace technologies allows greater flexibility than ever before. Working from home or off site can be a great way to reduce time spent commuting and minimise interruptions during the work day.
Working from home covers a range of time schedules. As a general rule, there should be a requirement to spend part of the work week on campus to ensure continuity of communication, minimise isolation and provide access to facilities not available away from Macquarie campus.
As a general rule, if a staff member works from home on an ad hoc basis or for a short period of time, an informal agreement between the manager and the staff member is sufficient. Where working from home is implemented on a regular basis, it is recommended to formalise the arrangement as per the Flexible Work Policy and Procedure.
When considering a request for working from home arrangement, think about:
- Is your home suitable for working efficiently, free from distractions and interruptions? For example, if you have small children, are there appropriate childcare arrangements for working from home days?
- Do you have adequate equipment and access to systems to enable working from home?
- Have health and safety issues been considered and addressed? Refer to the Working from Home Health and Safety Checklist
- Will the arrangements ensure privacy and security for organisational information and equipment?
- What arrangements will need to be put in place to ensure you are contactable when working from home?
- If it is a long-term arrangement with significant amount of time worked from home, what can be done to mitigate potential personal and professional isolation?
- Is your style of working suitable for working from home arrangement?
How to make a request
How to express interest in working flexibly
It is a good idea to let your manager know in advance that you would like to make a request for flexible work. Some points to consider when expressing interest in flexible work:
- Be prepared to be flexible and results-focused in approaching any arrangement
- Show your understanding that there could be challenges for your manager and team and be proactive in finding solutions to these challenges
- Suggest that your manager and you have a conversation about possible options and develop a workable solution that will suit both you and your work area.
Keep in mind that your preferred hours, days and location may not be possible. A number of factors may influence whether your preferred flexibility arrangement can be approved. It may conflict directly with the way your team currently achieves its business outcomes, or it may place an unreasonable burden on other team members. Be prepared to workshop your proposal with your manager to find the best option both for you and for your work area.
Making an application
There will be cases when a simple conversation and an informal arrangement with your manager may be sufficient, for example if you want to work from home as a one off. However, in most cases when you are seeking a regular, longer-term arrangement, it is important that your flexible work agreement is documented and that you follow the Flexible Work Procedure for your request.
A documented formal agreement helps to ensure that your flexible work arrangement is transparent and that you and your manager are on the same page about what you have agreed to. Documenting your agreement is also important to help the University plan its resources (for example if you are changing your hours or for job share) and make sure that we meet our health and safety and other obligations.
What your manager will consider
It will help at this point to consider the challenges for your manager that may come with your request for flexibility. It is a good idea to prepare for a conversation with your manager by thinking about some of the implications of your proposed flexible work arrangement and how you will help your manager deal with them. Think about:
- How do various options fit in with your work responsibilities? Are they likely to change? How?
- What are the likely benefits and disadvantages for you and your work area?
- How will you make sure the quality of your work output is not impacted?
- Are there likely to be any impacts on your team, direct reports or clients? How do you propose to minimise these impacts?
- How will you manage communication if working flexibly, particularly when working off-site?
- What are your technology requirements to enable you work effectively.
Setting yourself up for success
The success of flexible work requires a ‘give and take’ approach and a shared responsibility between you, as a staff member, and your manager. Below are some tips and strategies to help you make your flexible work arrangement successful.
Trial periods and review
It is recommended to trial a flexible work arrangement where possible. A trial period gives you and your manager an opportunity to see how it can work, and it can help decide if a different type of flexibility might be better. Trial periods are particularly recommended when there is some uncertainty about how practicable the arrangement is for you and for the work area.
Aim to work collaboratively with your manager and team during the trial period to discuss, review and refine your flexible working arrangement. This will lead to a better outcome overall and greater chance of success over the long term.
It is also a good practice for both the manager and the staff member to be prepared for ongoing adjustments, recognising that flexible work arrangement may need to change over time to maximize benefits and outcome both for you and for your team.
Keep communication clear and open
Making sure that you communicate well and regularly and stay connected with your manager, team and stakeholders is critical for the success of flexible work.
Some forms of flexible work – working from home in particular – raise additional challenges to do with communication and teamwork. It is important that you choose the right platforms for communication. There is a risk of overusing email and messaging. Face-to-face meetings can be more productive when complex or sensitive communication is required.
Make sure that you communicate your availability and how you can be contacted when not in the office. You may consider:
- updating your email signature to indicate what days of the week you work, who to contact when you are not working and how to get in touch with you if you are working from home;
- forwarding your office phone on days when you are working off-site.
Be disciplined and stay focused on outcomes
Flexible workers need to be competent self-managers, who can effectively plan their work and allocate sufficient time and resources to achieve outcomes. This is particularly important when you are telecommuting. Working from home may seem ideal, but the reality can be quite challenging. Make sure that you are able to work without too many personal interruptions and that you don’t get too easily distracted by things that need doing at home. Planning, setting (and sticking to) boundaries, and addressing issues early are all strategies that can increase the effectiveness of flexible work.
Keep your manager and team informed of your progress
Regular and thoughtful communication with the team becomes more important when you are working flexibly and are not always physically present in the team’s working environment. Aside from creating the sense of belonging to the team, good communication helps flexible workers demonstrate that they are delivering on expectations, are competent and accountable.
Make sure you provide regular updates to your manager on your work and progress. If there are any changes to your schedule when you are not physically in the office, let your manager and relevant people in the team know as soon as possible.
Be flexible and adaptable
Flexible work requires a ‘give-and-take’ approach – be adaptable especially when there are heavy workloads or crucial meetings or projects.
Need more help?
For advice and assistance with interpretation of flexible work provisions, contact your HR Client team.
Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2016, Employee Flexibility Toolkit
State Services Authority Victoria, 2011, Making Flexible Work a Success