The Working Carers Gateway is a champion for workplace flexibility.

We write about it every issue and see it as the natural way for every worker – not just working carers – to have the opportunity to create a healthy work-life balance.

But carers and their employers often want to know HOW to design a particular role to be more flexible.

Here we look at the very useful ‘Future-Flex Tool’ that will help you do just that.

The Future-Flex Tool is part of a resource kit put together by a partnership initiative between Diversity Council Australia, the Retail Council, National Australia Bank, Allens, IBM, BAE Systems Australia and IAG, which aimed to generate practical guidance for managers, teams, and individuals on how to implement and mainstream workplace flexibility through work design.

About job design

Job design means designing an individual’s job to enable flexibility. This involves restructuring the parts of a particular job (e.g. tasks, duties, responsibilities, location, timing) to improve the performance and wellbeing of the organisation, the team, and individuals.

Using the future-flex tool

This Tool takes individual employees through six steps to re-design their job. Steps 1 to 5 can be done by employees by themselves or with a team member if this is easier.

In the final Step 6, the employee discusses their job design proposal with a trusted team member (if they have not done this already) and then their manager.

STEP 1: WHAT ARE YOUR JOB CHARACTERISTICS?

Describe the main characteristics of your job. For example, your job title, key job/work outcomes, job location and timing, and the flexibility of your job, team and organisation.

STEP 2: WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN TASKS, RESPONSIBILITIES & CONNECTIONS?

List your main job tasks and responsibilities. Estimate the percentage of time and energy you give to each task. Rate how important each task is to achieving your job/work outcomes.

List your main job connections. Your job connections are the people you need to connect with (have on-going relationships with) to deliver your job/work outcomes. Rate how important each connection is to achieving your job/work outcomes.

STEP 3: WHAT ARE THE FLEXIBLE PARTS OF YOUR JOB?

Identify which job tasks, responsibilities, and/or connections could be changed to be more flexible. Try to be open-minded and creative about your job and possible changes. Remember, the aim is to make changes which maintain or improve performance and wellbeing – your own and that of your team and organisation. What type of flexibility would you like (e.g. greater control of shifts, working from more than one location)? Keep this in mind to create ways to make your job tasks, responsibilities, and/or connections more flexible.

STEP 4: DESIGN YOUR JOB FOR FLEXIBILITY!

Create your re-designed job. Use your findings from the Step 3 to summarise your re-designed job. As part of this, redefine your job’s characteristics and main tasks, responsibilities and/or connections (where relevant), and the job flexibility you propose.

STEP 5: WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES AND IMPLICATIONS?

Identify the positive impacts of your proposed re-design – for yourself, your team, and your organisation (e.g. Are there any financial savings such as better productivity or reduced office space?)

Identify and address any negative impacts – for yourself, your team and your organisation (e.g. are there any costs relating to backfilling roles or providing new equipment?)

STEP 6: DISCUSS AND FINALISE YOUR NEW FLEXIBLE JOB DESIGN

Talk about your proposed design with a trusted team mate. Refine your proposed design based on the feedback provided by your team mate.

Talk about your proposed design with your immediate manager or your team (if you or your manager is keen to take a team-based approach to flexible work).