Employers tap flexible working hours

Work life balance

By Cara Jenkin   

Fly-in, fly-out roles are taking on a new meaning for employees in corporate workplaces in a trend that sees employers work hard to retain skilled staff and overcome skill shortages.

Office workers who are moving interstate for personal reasons and are unwilling to leave their employer are being allowed to work from home in another state.

They are then flown to the office for face-to-face meetings and other requirements at regular intervals, such as once a month.

The measures also help prevent a brain drain from South Australia when skilled staff need to leave the state for reasons ranging from having to support sick relatives to following partners who move elsewhere for their careers.

Working from a remote location is not a new concept, with many corporate staff already taking advantage of technological developments by using office laptops and mobile phones to conduct their tasks from home.

Fusion is one of the first companies in South Australia to allow a staff member to work from their interstate home.

It flies senior developer Thu Trinh from Melbourne to Adelaide once a month for up to a week for face-to-face tasks and to network and strengthen relationships with coworkers.

Ms Trinh initially resigned from her job because her partner moved to Melbourne as part of his work.

But director Gavin Klose said it would have been a loss for the company and because she still preferred to stay in her role, they made arrangements to cater for her special circumstances.

He says the initiative has ensured the business keeps her skills and experience.

“It’s important to us to satisfy people in their work and work environment,” he says.

He says much of the company’s working platforms are on technology such as internal email, information and messaging systems, which makes it easy to accommodate staff who need to work remotely.

Ms Trinh uses computer messaging software and Skype to communicate with co-workers throughout the work day from her home office.

“Apart form that, everything is the same in terms of the work on the computer,” she says.

“I connect into the network and I can access the files like I used to at the office.”

She says she does miss the social aspects, such as the camaraderie with other staff, but it is an arrangement that helps further her work and career.

“In some respects it’s better because I don’t get as much interruptions and it’s quieter,” she says. “I was quite appreciative that they have done this for me and I get to stay with a great company.”

WORKING TIPS

* Discuss the option. Does the worker want to stay and are their skills and experience valued?

* Assess the worker’s tasks and responsibilities. Can most of the work be completed on a computer or other technology?

* Analyse communication requirements. Can online messaging and email be used?

* Decide on what equipment the company will need to provide for the arrangement to work. Will it be cost effective?

 

Article from The Advertiser, March 2011.


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