Flexible by design
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 123 No 3, 11 May 2020, page no. 16
The department’s Flexible by Design toolkit, available on OnePortal, has been an asset in responding to the pandemic.
One of the very few positives arising out of the pandemic is the encouraging way that flexible work and its benefits have been embraced. Many people with underlying health conditions, care responsibilities and compassionate circumstances have sought the capacity to work at home.
Underpinned by the Flexible Work Policy, the toolkit is a practical tool that highlights the potential of flexible work and the benefits that can be experienced from the perspective of both employees and employers (and managers). While access to flexible work has been available for some time, it highlights practical examples and, importantly, makes explicit the positive aspects of flexible work and the department’s commitment to this way of working. The agreement forms outline the issues both parties need to consider to ensure priorities are met and all aspects of the flexible work are addressed.
As we see with part-time, there sadly remains an antiquated and obstructionist view to flexible work among a small proportion of managers and decision makers within the state school system. The refusal to consider requests for fear of “opening the floodgates” has a profound impact on the people who need these adjustments, whose requests are typically arising from compassionate need. Already, I have experienced a school (and region) that refused to understand that this policy does apply to the teaching workforce. Looking at ways to support requests and overcome obstacles will go a long way to retaining talent in the department, and ensure that the workforce, and management, is more diverse into the future. Importantly, it also role-models different ways of working to the students we teach.
Some of this content is not new, and it is important to recognise that supportive and flexible managers have often adopted these ways of working and are supporting their staff in creative and innovative ways. However, in a statewide system with statewide conditions, the capacity to access this type of support should not be dependent on pot luck.