Guidance on public sector flexible working arrangements

Allowing flexible working arrangements helps the public sector to attract and retain employees, but it also comes with risks and governance issues that should be considered.

These are outlined in the Good Governance Guide on Governance issues to consider when dealing with flexible working arrangements, recently launched by the Governance Institute.

The value of flexible working arrangements has long recognised by the Australian Public Service (APS). Indeed, the Balancing the Future: APS Gender Equality Strategy 2016–19 requires APS agencies to review roles and adopt ‘a flexible by default’ approach.

Almost half of the respondents to the 2017 APS employee census reported using flexible work arrangements. Of respondents not using flexible work arrangements, 55 per cent said they didn’t need to and 21 per cent said their role’s operational requirements prevented them from doing so.

Given how broadly flexible work arrangements have been embraced in the public sector, the Governance Institute’s new guide suggests a governance framework to deal with them as well as a list of issues for the board to consider.

It notes that while public sector entities will have frameworks in place which cover employees working in a formal office environment, these may not deal effectively with the issues and risks which arise when employees work outside that environment.

According to the guide, some of these risks and issues include:

  • Maintaining the entity’s purpose and ensuring that these employees are aware of the entity’s strategic aims and are acting in accordance with the planned objectives, desired performance and culture of the entity.
  • Determining the most appropriate ways to effectively supervise and motivate employees who are not in the office to ensure that the entity does not suffer a loss of productivity.
  • Managing the work, health and safety of employees working in locations outside the entity’s direct control and supervision.
  • Taking advantage of the opportunities created by the emerging technologies enabling flexible working and managing the associated risks to ensure that the benefits are realised.
  • Safeguarding the entity’s information technology resources when employees are accessing the office through their own devices and ensuring that their use of technology is in accordance with the entity’s digital security framework.

To view the guide, click here.

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