Flexible working arrangements are becoming more common giving parents’ different options for managing the kids during school holidays, says accounting software provider MYOB. According to the latest MYOB Business Monitor survey of more than 1,000 small-to-medium sized businesses around New Zealand, 60% offer some form of flexible work options to staff – including almost one-in-five that make specific work arrangements for staff who are parents. The range of arrangements offered include 18% who offer flexible hours to working parents, more than a third (34%) who say they allow staff to work from home, 22% who offer the ability to vary start and finish times and 8% who offer four-day working weeks. MYOB New Zealand general manager Carolyn Luey says employees are increasingly looking for flexible work arrangements from employers as advancements in technology, such as new online communication tools and cloud-based business management software, allows them to work remotely and juggle their time. “These days, teams can work from just about anywhere thanks to digital communication, smartphones, laptops and other new technologies,” she says. “People also are more likely to be able to negotiate flexible working arrangements – particularly if they’re a parent or primary caregiver.” Luey says working parents rely on flexible work arrangements during the school holidays in particular. “The average working parent receives four weeks of annual leave a year, while their children can receive up to 12 weeks of school holidays. “So, taking time off to manage childcare can be a real challenge if you can’t change your hours or have the ability to work from home.” While day-care centres, school holiday programmes and full-time nannies are viable options, Luey says not all parents can afford such care. “With the right support from their employers, working parents can meet both their professional and parental duties with ease. “It’s a matter of knowing their requirements and looking for a way to accommodate individual needs,” says Luey. According to the survey, larger businesses are more likely to offer flexible work arrangements, with 69% of businesses with a revenue of more than $5 million allowing their staff to work from home.
Forty-four percent of these businesses also offer flexible work arrangements to parents, while a fifth (21 percent) offer four-day working weeks. Interestingly the research identified that older employers are among the least likely to offer flexible work options, with just one percent of employers over the age of 70 providing flexibility to working parents.
And, almost half (45%) of this group saying they do not offer any flexible work arrangements to their staff. “While some SMEs can’t offer flexible hours due to the nature of their work, there are several productivity benefits for those that can,” says Luey. “Research shows that staff who are given the option to work on their own terms have a greater sense of job satisfaction and lower stress levels, which can increase workplace productivity and efficiency.”