We’re big believers in a flexible approach to the workplace here at Lifehacker, and a recent survey of local employers by Regus Australia suggests that most employers already offer some flexible options. As with so many surveys, however, the devil is in the detail.
The headline figure in the press release I just received about the Regus study is that 86% of Australian businesses now offer flexible working practices for their employees. That sounds great, but there’s three things to note: firstly, that number came from 841 businesses locally who were on Regus’ database. Since the company offers serviced offices and other facilities which would be more likely to attract businesses that want flexible arrangements, there’s likely to be an inherent bias in the numbers.
Secondly, of those businesses, 41% only offered “flexible” arrangements to senior staff, which isn’t very equitable but would bring the numbers more into line with other local studies that have suggested markedly less enthusiasm for the concept.
Thirdly, we get not really well-defined concept of what “flexible working” actually is. That makes me suspect that many businesses equate “flexible” with “you can come in to work late occasionally if your kid has an item at assembly”, which is clearly a start but not exactly a deep commitment to flexibility. But it’s still a better outcome than 86% saying they oppose it, I guess.