We suggest agencies explore their current state of flexible working with key stakeholders, including senior leaders, managers, unions and a diverse range of employees. Agencies might consider establishing a working group to lead this work.

Learning about the current state of flexible working will help each agency understand:

  • what arrangements are already in place – formal and informal - how common they are and why people use them
  • experiences of flexible work, positive and negative and the current culture around flexible working
  • barriers to flexible working
  • the impact of flexible working on teams and the agency
  • good practice and positive experiences to showcase.

This information can inform an agency’s vision, goals and planning and provide a baseline from which to monitor progress.

Run surveys and focus groups

Agencies can use:

  • surveys to gather data on the full range of flexible options (formal and informal) being used
  • focus groups to provide qualitative information about the flexible working experiences of employees, unions, managers and teams.

If an agency is large enough, it can design surveys and focus groups to enable it to identify whether different groups of employees (genders, ethnic and religious groups, disabled employees and employees who are members of rainbow communities) have different levels of uptake, or different attitudes to and/or experiences of flexible working. This can enable those agencies to tailor their actions toward different groups.

Undertake a high-level, flexible-by-default self-assessment

Resource 5 includes a high-level assessment tool3 to enable agencies to assess how developed their approach to flexible-by-default is, in the areas of:

  • measurement and monitoring
  • vison and goals
  • implementation plan
  • communications
  • engagement
  • culture and capability building
  • policy, process and systems.

See the case studies in Resource 1 on how Inland Revenue and the NZ Customs Service assessed the current state of their flexible working.

Flexible work, such as early start and finish times, can support employees to achieve work life balance while also supporting the work of the agency.

Giving effect to the Gender Pay Principles

GPPs aim to create State sector working environments that are free of gender- based inequalities, as well as eliminating the Gender Pay Gap. A range of themes in line with the GPPs appear throughout this resource:

GPP 1: Freedom from bias and discrimination.

This resource provides advice about countering negative assumptions about employees (traditionally female) working flexibly.

GPP 2: Transparency and accessibility.

This resource recommends flexible-by-default policies and practices are communicated, transparent and readily accessible to all employees.

GPP 3: Relationship between paid and unpaid work.

The goal of flexible- by-default is to support all employees, balance their paid work with their other responsibilities and life choices in ways that don’t undermine their career progression or pay.

GPP 4: Sustainability.

This resource recommends agencies connect their flexible-by-default strategy to their wider organisational strategy and use evidence to inform their work.

GPP 5: Participation and engagement.

This principle requires agencies to work with their employees and union representatives in developing, implementing monitoring and reviewing flexible-by-default actions.

3Adapted from the Australian Government Workplace Gender Equality Agency flexibility diagnostic assessment guidance. For more information on the full assessment tool visit Flexibility readiness assessment guide© Commonwealth Government of Australia 2018