“Flexible working' is much more than working from home” says Nick May, General Manager. Procurement Services at National Australia Bank.
At NAB, flexible working is about allowing people to make a personal choice about when and where they want to work, and with whom. NAB’s flexible work environments reflect the diverse options now on offer - flexible hours, working from another location and job sharing.
Many employees ask for flexibility at work for a broad range of reasons, and it is necessary for us to keep up with the changing environment that we live in. Flexibility can exist in many different shapes and forms – the right solution depends on a balance between personal needs and the needs of a job role, team and business.
1. What is the rationale behind NAB’s strategy of flexible working?
NAB identified that about 30-40% of our office space was not being used on a regular basis. We took a closer look and found that many of our employees were working from different locations, visiting customers at their sites and spending time in meetings outside the office. NAB’s workplace landscape has expanded beyond the four walls of our buildings, giving us the opportunity to transform our working environment and how we work. Ultimately this has led to the consolidation of our office space and lowered our physical footprint. NAB also wanted to give its people more choice about how and when they work. Flexibility and work/life integration are no longer a 'nice to have'. There is enough research out there to show they are critical to workplace productivity and satisfaction.
2. What advice would you give to leaders who are managing a team remotely?
Leaders need to break away from the traditional way of working by fostering an environment that empowers and equips them and their teams to work freely and flexibly. As a leader, you play a critical role in enabling and supporting your team members. The best outcomes are achieved when leaders work together with their teams to develop and review working arrangements, ensuring everyone is clear on their performance measures and that the team can hold each other accountable. If you want to successfully manage a remote team, you also need to role model the right behaviours. Be prepared to challenge your own work habits and seek feedback about what is working and what can be improved.
3. What have been the outcomes/benefits of this initiative?
NAB’s employee engagement survey results indicate that people who work flexibly are more engaged and motivated. It is critical to NAB to be recognised as an employer of choice to attract talent. Technology including wireless and video conferencing has allowed NAB to strengthen real time working and collaboration across the business while maintaining a sense of team environment even if people aren’t in the same place. Significant savings have also been realised due to the release of unused office space.