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Works for me. Works for NSW. Flexible Working - Make Flexibility Happen

‘Make Flexibility Happen’ has been developed to help implement flexible working across the NSW government sector. Use the steps below to decide which step your agency has reached, then dive as deep as you need into the advice given in each section. The aim is to reach a state where flexible working is embedded across your agency and has become business as usual.

The content is informed by a research paper Dr Graeme Russell and Linda Haas wrote, which examines the organisational context of flexibility initiatives. The paper suggests “an innovative and business-integrated framework is needed for flexibility to ‘stick’ and have a positive impact on organisational and individual outcomes”. This framework forms the basis for the structure of this guidance, contextualised by the examples and experiences the PSC flexible working team has observed when working with the sector.

  • Why you need to do this

    The NSW Government has made a policy commitment to ensure that all roles in the government sector can be flexible on an ‘if not, why not’ basis by 2019. While agency CEOs are responsible for ensuring this policy is implemented, you will need to translate what it means for the way your agency will plan and arrange its work and workforce at a local level in order to succeed in your implementation. 

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    What you need to do

    First, you need to build the case for change. Which of the strategic priorities identified will your flexible working strategy address? Seek time to speak at your agency’s Executive meeting. Use the time to present the business need for the change to flexible working, and why it makes sense for your organisation to move towards an ‘if not, why not’ approach. Draw on case studies from similar organisations, to demonstrate what is possible. Working with them to diagnose the problem will build buy-in to take it further.

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    Resources at your disposal

    All resources listed are available on the PSC Flexible Working website, unless specified otherwise. 

    View the resources list

  • Why you need to do this

    When developing your project plan, conduct a needs assessment to determine who needs the project, how great the need is, and what might work to meet the need, in order of priority. You can do this as part of your consultation with agency leaders, by using data such as your Flex Implementation Tracker (FIT) or PMES results, present your findings and determine your priorities. Check the Priorities Assessment Template for clear guidance on how to prioritise.

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    What you need to do

    Your organisation’s current state in each of these areas can be gauged from its most recent Flexibility Implementation Tracker (FIT) result. This will identify the work to be done, and your organisation’s progress against it. If your organisation does not have a FIT result, access it from the PSC website, as it can help inform the decisions made on what to do and how to prioritise. Next, develop a project plan or project logic for each of the key areas listed above, that scopes the deliverables/outcomes, timing, stakeholders and resourcing, and funding required to reach an ‘embedded’ state for flexible working. 

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    Resources at your disposal

    All resources listed are available on the PSC Flexible Working website, unless specified otherwise.

    View the resources list

  • What you need to do

    Now it is time to start building awareness and buy-in at all levels of your organisation. While consultation during your project plan will reveal what work will likely need to be done, it is in this phase that you will begin to work most collaboratively with your colleagues to make it happen.

    This will be the most communications-heavy piece phase of your work, but while your communications strategy and tools and resource development is integral to raising awareness, it will have limited effect in driving change. Permanent changes in beliefs and behaviours require support in explaining not just the what and why, but also the ‘how to do it’, i.e. support in using all of these things. We’ll address this further in Section 4.

    How you can do it

    The first step is to use the work already done with your executive team to communicate your organisation’s case for change, and vision for what flexible working will look like in your context, and cascade that to lower levels of management.

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    Resources at your disposal

    All resources listed are available on the PSC Flexible Working website, unless specified otherwise.

    View the resources list

  • What you need to do

    It’s now time to start driving the change across your organisation. We recommend doing this slowly, particularly through localised, team-based pilots, which allow for mistakes, adjustments and to build capability through doing.

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    How you can do it

    Two resources to help you introduce the change slowly are the team-based design toolkit’ and our findings from a behavioural insights trial we ran in 2019.

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    Resources at your disposal

    All resources listed are available on the PSC Flexible Working website, unless specified otherwise.

    View the resources list

    Ensure your support with senior leaders

    The preliminary results of trials should give you excellent data to take back to your leaders, to reinforce the commitments made previously to implementing flexible working at your organisation. At each step of your planning and project roll out, keep your leaders informed and engaged about the project’s progress, looking for opportunities to invite their active participation and vocal support for the initiatives. An example of how to do this in a practical way would be to use a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis to evaluate the project at key checkpoints and ask executives to take ownership for problem solving with you.

  • What you need to do

    Your organisation has set out to introduce flexible working because it is seeking to respond to a given challenge, as identified with your leadership group. It is now time to measure if the benefit anticipated up front (e.g. better office space management, improved diversity representation for a given demographic, engagement scores, etc) has in fact happened.

    How you can do it

    Now time to take the evaluation framework you gave consideration to up front and see if tracking as expected. Has the case for change that you identified and pitched to your senior executive group been satisfied, or is on track as hoped? Is the project meeting, or has the project met the needs of the agency and stakeholders?

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    Resources at your disposal

    All resources listed are available on the PSC Flexible Working website, unless specified otherwise.

    View the resources list

  • What you need to do

    Check that flexible working is embedded into BAU strategic plans, HR systems and processes, workforce management at each stage of the employee life cycle, information technology and systems, and organisational culture – that it has become the ‘way we do things around here’.

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    How you can do it

    If you have introduced pilots and evaluated them, you can use the insights and results to expand across your organisation.

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    Resources at your disposal

    All resources listed are available on the PSC Flexible Working website, unless specified otherwise.

    View the resources list

    Avoiding slippage

    There is a risk that your agency may go backwards in the quest to reach an embedded state on flexible working, especially if your change leads for flexible working exit your agency or change roles before getting there.

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