Inside the workplace of the future
Melissa Macfarlane reveals she has another role at the bank - as mentor to the employee action group on flexible working.
This is a formal group that is raising awareness and confidence levels across the bank, to be able to embrace flexible working, she explains.
Flexible working is “often a female conversation”, but not at Westpac.
A number of male staff also utilise flexible working, as some of them have family responsibilities or are involved in external interests such as sports refereeing.
She says Westpac is incredibly supportive of flexible working. “It is a real strength of the company.”
As well, this is also one way of preparing the organisation for the workplace of the future, she says. "More and more, the new workforce is going to demand it.”
Macfarlane is a prime example of how to go about it. “I work flexibly in the truest sense of the world.”
Put parameters around how often you use technology to connect to work.
She works three days of the week in Auckland, with the rest of the week spent in the Kaikoura Coast in the South Island.
She helps her husband in their cafe and restaurant in Kekerengu. “It is in the middle of nowhere,” she says.
“I am not a barista, I often get stuck in the sink washing dishes,” says Macfarlane, who also lends a hand with accounts.
“Different people work flexibly in different ways. Sometimes Monday needs to be my day off, so I will move it around.
“The beauty of that is I experience on a regular basis what it is like to be an SMB (small business) in New Zealand, with a lot of the challenges that brings.
“The trick is how to make it work for you,” she says. “Technology is an enabler of flexible working, so long as you put boundaries around it.
“You’ll always need the right people on your team, delivering great results. But they don’t have to be sitting at a desk 9 am to 5 pm, five days a week to create excellent outcomes.”
She shares with CIO New Zealand her five-point approach for building a more flexible work schedule:
● Stay in the loop: “A remote location can’t be a barrier to collaboration and conversations.”
● Put parameters around how often you use technology to connect to work: “You still need a life.”
● Be honest and realistic – with both yourself and your team – about what can be done working flexibly.
● Support people leaders to understand how to get the most out of their flexible team.
● Be flexible about flexible working: “Keep assessing the arrangement and be open to changes in terms.”
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