flexible working conditions to work from home

Flexible Working

Quick Links

The NSW Government has committed to ensuring that all government sector roles can be flexible on an ‘if not, why not’ basis by 2019. We were asked to develop a strategic framework to drive the implementation of this policy.

Why flexible working?

Flexible working can improve employee engagement and commitment in the workforce. Providing flexibility is another way we’re working to build an inclusive workforce in the NSW government sector, and attract and retain talented employees.

Flexible working, when implemented well, has a positive impact on employee health, productivity and retention, and can lead to improved customer satisfaction. Flexible working helps everyone to be as productive as possible while providing us with more choices about how we plan and arrange our work, and balance our commitments outside of work.

What does ‘if not, why not’ mean?

Flexible working is about rethinking the where, when and how your work can be done, in a way that maintains or improves service delivery for the people of NSW.

We acknowledge that with the diversity of jobs across the sector and the people doing them, there is no ‘one-size-fits all’ approach to flexible working. What a flexible working arrangement looks like, and how it works, will be different according to the job, the team, the service being delivered and the location.

However, this commitment starts with the assumption that any proposal to work flexibly will be fully considered from the perspective of ‘how can we make this work?’

To help agencies, managers and employees determine how it might work in their given context, we have developed a strategic framework with has six principles that everyone can apply to determine their own flexible working solution – these principles are contained in Make Flexibility Count.

The six principles set out the standards and values that underpin a culture of flexibility, and provide guidance to managers and employees on how to consider the viability of an arrangement:

For everyone

  • Everyone is able to request the types of flexibility that makes sense within their role.
  • Whether it is possible and what it looks like will vary depending on the role.
  • Managers and their teams consider what is possible on the basis of ‘why not?’
  • Flexibility is no longer a special provision or a reward that needs to be earned.

Mutually beneficial

  • For flexibility to be successful it must create the best outcome for employees, employers and customers.
  • Flexible work must maintain or improve service delivery for the people of NSW and not increase labour costs.

About the team

  • Flexible working should be considered in the context of the team.
  • Flexible arrangements must have a team overview about how work will be distributed and solve for the needs of the team.
  • There are also legislative provisions relating to the right to request flexible working that apply to certain categories of employees.

Give and take

  • Flexible working does not mean you always get what you want as an individual.
  • Not all types of flexibility will be available for every role and every individual all the time.
  • Flexible work requires give and take between employees, managers and teams.
  • It is the obligation of the employee, their manager and their team to make any flexible working arrangement a success.
  • Flexible arrangements should be reviewed regularly to check they are working well and address any issues that may arise.


  • Senior leaders should lead the way and show what is possible with regards to flexible working.
  • Senior leaders need to visibly demonstrate how they are building flexible working into their own lives and enabling their teams to work flexibly.

Context matters

  • Due to the size and diversity of the NSW government sector, one size cannot fit all.
    Different types of flexibility will suit different roles.
    Assumptions will need to be challenged to rethink work design and business models to realise flexible working to improved service delivery.

What we’re doing to support flexible working

In consultation with government sector agencies, we have developed a program of work that identifies immediate and near-term priorities that will support the framework’s application across the government sector to a point where working flexibly becomes the norm. This work is taking place across four work streams over three phases from January 2018.

<need a graphic of what we’re doing, with links in it to stuff as comes online>

What’s coming

Over July and August 2018 we will have available the follow resources to raise awareness and implement flexible working across the government sector.

  • Best-practice policy guidance – a policy guidance document that can assist departments in reviewing, updating, or writing a flexible working policy. It is a principles-based policy development document with examples of what can be included in a flexible working policy.
  • Checklist for creating a flexible working proposal – a checklist that employees can use when thinking about flexible working and preparing a flexible working proposal for discussion with their manager.
  • Checklist for considering a flexible working proposal – a checklist that managers can use when considering an employee’s flexible working proposal.
  • Decision tree for flexible working proposal – a step by step process that can assist employees and managers in understanding the process for discussing, considering and approving flexible working proposals.
  • Guiding principles for industrial arrangements – guidance for employees and manager on reaching mutual agreement to approve flexible working arrangements that don’t have an impact on the employee, their team, organisation and the customer they service.
  • Collateral to help build momentum across agencies:
    • Personas – provide insight into where the ‘pain points’ are for many employees, and suggestions on how to engage them.
    • Best practice case studies - detail how leading organisations have implemented flexible working.
    • Employee data analysis - shows the relationships between working flexibly, engagement, willingness to go above and beyond, and job satisfaction.
    • Misgivings – these identify the concerns raised by employees and leaders across the sector about how to make it work, and suggests how to address these.
  • CBD Flexible Working Hubs – Property NSW is currently piloting flexible working hubs. During the pilot phase the Hubs are only available for Senior Executive Band 1-4 (SEB 1-4) public sector employees whose offices are not located in the CBD.  The two Hubs are located at 1 Margaret Street and 1 Farrer Place. For further information, please see the FAQ document (PDF 207KB). We encourage eligible public sector employees to visit the hubs and utilise this exciting initiative! 

How to get started

There are some useful tools and resources developed by the Diversity Council Australia and Workplace Gender Equality Agency that can get you started while we build others and more.

Over the remainder of 2018 and into 2019 we will be developing custom tools and resources to help embed flexible working. We have provided an idea of the timeframe and what will be available in the ‘what’s coming’ section of the table below. We will keep you updated as these become available.

Want to know more about …

… to get you started consider using

What’s coming …

As a manager, how to create flexible teams and discuss flexibility.

WGEA - Manager flexibility toolkit
DCA Future Flex – Mainstreaming Flexibility by Design.

  • Build, pilot and support (train the trainer) team-based approaches to flexibility – tasks, responsibilities, relationships, timing, location. July – Dec 2018.


  • Role re-design best practice guide for all flexible working. July – Dec 2019.
  • Develop guidance on role design for job share and part time roles. Jan – June 2019.

For managers, how to manage flexible teams

WGEA - Briefing note: About workplace flexibility
WGEA - Managing requests for flexible working arrangements

  • Best practice policy guidance. July 2018


  • Manager checklist for considering a flexible working proposal.  July 2018.
  • Quarterly community of practice to share best practice and challenges. July – Dec 2018.


  • Publish standards for managers and leaders for managing flexible teams/managing for outcomes. July – Dec 2018

For employees, how to talk to your manager and draft a flexible working proposal

WGEA - Employee flexibility toolkit

  • Best practice policy guidance. July 2018
  • Employee checklists for creating a flexible working proposal. July 2018.

For agencies, how to promote buy in for flexible working

DCA – Mythbusting Flexibility

  • Employee misgivings about flexible working, and how to address them. July/August 2018.
  • Case studies on the common barriers to encouraging uptake and implementation, and how organisations have successfully addressed them. July/August 2018.
  • Personas, which provide insight into where the ‘pain points’ are for many employees, and suggestions on how to engage them. July/August 2018.
  • Employee data analysis – which shows the relationships between working flexibly, engagement, willingness to go above and beyond, and job satisfaction. July/August 2018.

For managers, how to use job and team design to implement flexible working

DCA Future Flex – Mainstreaming Flexibility by Design.

  • Build, pilot and support (train the trainer) team-based approaches to flexibility – looking at tasks, responsibilities, relationships, timing, location. July – Dec 2018.
  • Role re-design best practice guide for all flexible working. July – Dec 2019.
  • Job-share tool kits and guides. July - December 2018

For HR practitioners, how to diagnose your organisation’s maturity in flexible working

WGEA – The diagnostic phase

    • Flexibility readiness assessment
    • Flexibility readiness assessment diagnostic tool
  • Organisational capability diagnostic tool. Note this tool alone will be used to complete reporting on flexible working implementation and progress . Sept – Oct 2018.

For HR practitioners, how to build an evidence base to promote the uptake of flexible working

WGEA – The diagnostic phase

    • Flexibility focus group guidance
    • Sample workforce metric formulas
    • Sample employee flexible working questionnaire
  • Personas, best practice case studies, employee data analysis, employee misgivings. July/August 2018.


  • Pulse survey for pilot sites and data dashboard. July/August 2018.

For all, research about the benefits of workplace flexibility

Research on workplace flexibility

    • Supporting the whole person: a broader view of employees’ life satisfaction
    • UnifyCo 2014
    • Australian Work and Life Index 2014
    • Flexibility dividend: why supported employees increase customer satisfaction
    • Working and fathers: combining family life and work
    • AIM Insights: Managing in a flexible work environment
    • The Great Debate: Flexibility vs. Face time
    • The flex factor: Releasing the value of flexible working
    • The business case for accommodating pregnant workers
    • Men get flexible! Mainstreaming flexible work in Australian Business


About the Diversity Council Australia

Diversity Council Australia (DCA) is the independent not-for-profit peak body leading diversity and inclusion in the workplace. They provide unique research, inspiring events and programs, curated resources and expert advice across all diversity dimensions to a community of member organisations.

Access to tools and resources is available on the DCA website. Although only DCA members can access the research reports in full, summary information is available to non members. A number of NSW Government agencies are already members of DCA and anyone from an agency or department covered by a DCA membership is a member of DCA and can get a login to their website.

About the Workplace Gender Equality Agency

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) is an Australian Government statutory agency created by the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012. The Agency is charged with promoting and improving gender equality in Australian workplaces. WGEA work collaboratively with employers providing advice, practical tools and education to help them improve their gender performance. Their staff are workplace gender equality specialists and  provide industry-specific advice.
All WGEA documents are publically available.

Who does this policy commitment apply to?

This policy commitment applies to all employees of the NSW government sector. This includes employees of the following services, as defined in Part 1 s.3 of the NSW Government Sector Employment Act (2013):

  • the Public Service
  • the Teaching Service
  • the NSW Police Force
  • the NSW Health Service
  • the Transport Service of New South Wales
  • any other service of the Crown (including the service of any NSW government agency)
  • the service of any other person or body constituted by or under an Act or exercising public functions (such as a State owned corporation), being a person or body that is prescribed by the regulations for the purposes of this definition.