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Work/Life Balance? It’s As Easy As 1-2-3

Work/Life Balance? It’s As Easy As 1-2-3
Step-by-step guide to flexible working launched today

Auckland, 10 August 2005: Work/life balance is one step closer for New Zealand workers today following the launch of a guide to flexible working, developed by a consortium of blue-chip New Zealand and Australian companies, lead by Toshiba (Australia) Pty. Limited, Information Systems Division, (ISD).

The guide, called ‘Flexible Working – A Guide to Creating and Managing a Flexible Workplace,’ has been developed in response to the Mobility and Mistrust research report last year which showed that Australian and New Zealand managers do not trust their employees to work away from the office and are denying them the opportunity to work flexibly. In particular, it showed that:

- Mistrust of flexible workers is prevalent amongst Australian and New Zealand organisations: more than 50 per cent of respondents think managers are less trusting of flexible workers and nearly 75 per cent think employees disapprove of their colleagues who sometimes work away from the office;

- Most managers (75 per cent) in non-flexible workplaces said they would be unlikely to let employees work flexibly, even though nearly 50 per cent of employees would like to, if allowed.

The guide is a practical manual for all organisations and individuals interested in adopting new working practices to improve culture, and looks at a number of complex issues including management approaches and workplace mistrust.

Mark Whittard, general manager, Australia and New Zealand, Toshiba ISD, said: “There is a great wave of New Zealanders who are questioning the high-stress urban lifestyle and looking for tangible ways they can improve their lives. Knowledge workers in particular are realising that they have more power in negotiations with employers because their skills are transferable and in demand. Fortunately, many Australian and New Zealand organisations are starting to respond, and looking to solutions like flexible working, which can help them retain their staff.

“However, flexible working is a complex issue and our intention with the guide is to simplify how flexible working can be successfully introduced and its business benefits measured, by listing the steps companies can take.”

DDI is an organisation that works with companies of all sizes to build engaged, high-performing organisational cultures. Mark Busine, general manager, DDI, said: “Investigation has shown that work/life balance rates higher than remuneration in the reasons why people stay with their employer. This is very important for organisations of all sizes in retaining and attracting high calibre people.”

Toshiba worked with 17 organisations including Westpac, DDI, WMC Resources, AngloGold Ashanti and Foster’s Group to develop the 58 page guide. These organisations are part of a Flexible Workplace Special Interest Group (SIG), convened in March, to share experiences, resources and ideas around flexible working practices. Toshiba also arranged a series of focus groups with a cross section of managers and employees in small to medium businesses (SMBs) to tailor the guide to the needs of organisations of a smaller size.

Westpac is an example of an Australian company that has successfully implemented flexible working for the benefit of staff and the greater organisation.

Practice Leader - Diversity, People & Performance, Westpac, and member of the Flexible Workplace Special Interest Group, Niki Kesoglou, said: “Westpac's focus on diversity management has been an integral part of our differentiation in the marketplace, we have received acknowledgements and awards for our dedicated focus on women, age balance and people with a disability. The provision of flexibility supports the diverse needs of our current and future workforce and ensures we continue to attract the best talent in the marketplace."

The guide includes seven chapters addressing the ABCs of ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘who’, ‘how’, ‘where’ and ‘when’ questions behind flexible working. It includes:

- Tips on managing remote workers and building an effective organisational culture with flexible workers, including maintaining team spirit, building trust and communication amongst team mates;

- Suggestions on how to measure the performance of employees based on productivity and business needs, rather than by ‘presence’ or time;

- Examples on how and why companies have implemented flexible working, including case studies from WMC Resources;

- Step-by-step guides for setting up flexible working practices;

- Worksheets, including: a cost/benefit analysis to determine the financial benefits available; employee self assessment to check individual suitability for flexible working; technology assessments; and team building;

- Guidance on how to secure managerial buy-in for implementing flexible working;

- Advice on building flexible workplace policies; and

- Information on the practical requirements for successful flexible working, including technology requirements, home office environments.

Dr James Cowley, independent academic and chairperson of the Flexible Workplace Special Interest Group, said: “Workplace shortages are beginning to impact many industries. The baby boomer generation is about to retire, taking their numbers and skills out of the workforce; many others are leaving the workforce for extended periods to raise a family and to travel; and, on a macroeconomic level, our fertility rate is just not sustaining our population level.

“In order to survive in the wake of these trends, organisations simply need to start looking at alternative ways of attracting and retaining staff, and flexible working offers a viable means of tapping into a greater resource of skilled people. This includes those of retirement age who may wish to keep working under more flexible conditions, mothers returning to work, part-time workers or those who are simply looking for a better work/life balance,” he said.

In conclusion, Mr Whittard from Toshiba said: “With the ubiquity of broadband and the availability of hardware devices, technology has evolved to a point that it can no longer be used as an excuse for organisations not to consider flexible working. Rather, companies need to think about their culture and developing practices that will set them up for long-term success. Our workforce is changing, and with it, so must organisations - for their own survival and success.”

To obtain a copy of the Flexible Working: A Guide to Creating and Managing a Flexible Workplace or the original Mobility and Mistrust report, please visit: www.toshiba.co.nz/sig/downloads or contact Toshiba on 0800 441 615.

ENDS

About Toshiba

The New Zealand office of Toshiba’s Information Systems Division (ISD) is a division of Toshiba (Australia) Pty Limited, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation, the seventh largest integrated manufacturer of electric and electronic equipment, with around 165,000 employees worldwide, and annual sales of over US$47billion on a consolidated basis.

Australian mobile computing market leader, Toshiba ISD is unique among vendors, specialising exclusively in mobile solutions and services. A global reputation for quality has been achieved through an R&D budget roughly equal to Australia’s total expenditure as a country in this area.

Since it pioneered the notebook market in 1985, Toshiba ISD has sold more than 1.25 million notebooks in Australia and New Zealand and is this year celebrating its 20th anniversary of providing market leading mobile computing solutions.

Committed to People, Committed to the Future. Toshiba. wwww.toshiba.co.nz

ENDS

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