What Do You Do When Your Staff Asks for Flexible Workdays?

By Annette A. Dixon 


Under Fair Work Legislation, every business must provide a family friendly work environment for their employees. Providing staff with the option to work different hours or work from home does not have to mean a loss of productivity. In fact, even smaller businesses are finding it advantageous to accommodate their staff’s needs for flexible work arrangements.

However the initial request for more flexibility is often confronting for many employers. Here are 3 points you need to consider.

1. It’s not a one-way exchange

While it may not be applicable to every member of your team, most employers have loyal, hardworking staff members they know they can trust. If you wish to keep these people, you need to be adaptable as they balance their work and family obligations.

Unhappy workers leave their current jobs – especially if their new employer promises more opportunities to gain work/life balance. So if you want to keep your best workers, you will need to consider their request for flexibility.

Building a culture of trust

Accommodating a staff member’s needs for flexible work arrangements makes a strong statement that you trust and value their contribution to your organisation.

When workers feel valued, they tend to work harder and be more loyal to their employer. So while the initial request for flexible work arrangements may seem inconvenient for your business, it could provide a boost in productivity.

2. A request for flexibility is the start of a conversation

The legislation around providing flexible work arrangements clearly states that a business can refuse requests for flexible working arrangements “on reasonable business grounds”. The key word here is reasonable and this is where personal biases can cloud an employer’s decision.

The legislation also states the request for flexibility must be made in writing describing what the request is and the reasons for it. The employer must then respond within 21 days. Use this time to become less emotional about the request. Instead, focus on the impact to your business if the staff member takes unplanned leave or resigns from your organisation.

Negotiate if you can’t say “yes”

If you are unable to completely satisfy your employee’s request for flexibility, try to negotiate a middle ground that satisfies the needs of both the employee and the business. For example, if your employee asks to work from home 3 days a week, maybe they could work from home 1 or 2 days a week with a review of the situation after 3 months.

3. Explore ways to create a flexible workplace by redesigning work flow practices

Technology and customer service expectations are both changing the way the world does business. Many industries now operate in a 24/7 environment with businesses of all sizes embracing the cost savings of running virtual offices.

For some businesses offering 9 day fortnights or longer work days in exchange for rostered days off are proving a viable way to remain profitable and customer focused. They often report other benefits such as reduced unplanned leave because workers have the flexibility to balance their work and home responsibilities.

A fresh approach could help your business

In order to adapt to the changing expectations of employees and legislators, many businesses seek help from experts in the field.




End2End Business Solutions offers SMEs a range of outsourced HR services tailored to your needs. To discover if End2End can help your business, call 02 8977 4002.