A need for flexibility and a lack of available interesting part-time work was one of the reasons I decided to work for myself a few years ago and I am thankful for it. It has meant calling the shots on my time and being available for my family, including ageing parents. More and more people I talk to are looking for choice and control over their time and effort
and it seems some employers are listening, but not enough.
The flexible-work trailblazers that are working women have been joined by fathers, older workers, people caring for ageing parents and Millennials in the demand for flexible work. Many are suggesting that part-time, freelance or contract labour is the way of the future, fueled by technology and the rapidly growing ‘gig’ economy – think ‘Uber’ and ‘Air BnB’.
Some fast flexible facts:
- 87% of new jobs created in Australia in the last year were part-time, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
- A recent Ernst and Young report found women working part-time were the most productive in the workforce.
- Getting Trendy 2017 Report estimated 20 percent of employees at Australian companies will be contractors, temps or consultants within the next three years.
- Job-sharing platform, Gemini3, discovered over 76 percent of Australians are interested in job sharing, yet those kinds of roles account for only 2.5 percent of the market.
- Flexible work policies are cited as one of the main reasons for people wanting to work at the top 25 companies in Australia, according to LinkedIn.
It’s a no-brainer, right? So why is it not universal?
There is significant evidence that well-managed, flexible work practices lead to greater engagement and motivation and sustainable businesses and while some organisations already understand this, such as Telstra‘s “All Roles Flexible” or Medibank‘s FlexBetter, there is more groundwork that needs to be done. Research shows flexible work arrangements can:
- optimise resources and productivity,
- boosts critical business drivers such as customer satisfaction,
- enhance employee creativity and organisational innovation and,
- increase workforce participation levels flowing on to socio-economic benefits,
- increase work-life satisfaction.
How can you take advantage of the flexible future?
Technology has transformed the way we work and play. How can we be ready to take advantage of flexible work opportunities and possible transitions between ‘gigs’ or contract work?
- Work on transferable skills and qualities that you take with you to every role you do e.g. problem-solving, interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, digital literacy. More and more employers are looking for ‘soft-skills’ first.
- Mindfully engage in life-long learning and seek new experiences. It happens in paid and un-paid work, incidentally and constructed, through work-life experience, and many different avenues such as mentoring, peer to peer, building relationships and networks, reading and research, formal training and education, within families, communities and workplaces.
- Embrace Chaos Theory! We live in times of rapid change and uncertainty. Be open to opportunity and possibilities by recognising that chance takes a big part in what direction our careers take. It also means accepting that we don’t always have control over what happens to us but only how we respond.
- Do your research and target roles with employers that have visible signs of work place flexibility, such as those that partner with job seeking platforms like FlexCareers.
- Work out ways you could do your work flexibly and present the solutions to your organisation for discussion or partner with another like-minded person or group.
What will that future of work look like? We can’t know for sure, but I think it offers immense opportunity for flexible work. This is the sharing economy and flexibility is the future.
Celeste Tramonte is a founding member of the FlexCoach panel of career and executive coaches. As a career and leadership coach, she helps people reconnect to what matters in their work-life and organisations realise the benefits of positive career development.
Celeste combines coaching with the practical tools and resources people often need when crafting a career: strengths, personality, and other career assessments help with Resumes, LinkedIn profiles, interview preparation, job search strategies, negotiating new roles and job-offers.