Rethinking the way, the public sector thinks about flexible work is a key focus of the Rural, Regional and Remote Women’s Network of Western Australia. Flexible and remote working styles has become a new norm because of COVID-19 and regional people hope this willingness and acceptance of remote work is here to stay.

Promoting flexible and remote work models for qualified and talented women across W.A was a 2019 recommendation to state government in the RRR Network’s Regional Women’s Voices Report.

A woman’s skill, potential and her talent does not, and should not, be disregarded simply because of her geography. There is incredible talent outside of metropolitan areas that is untapped.  Flexi work would increase employment opportunities for regional people and improve a woman’s economic independence. Both of which are significant contributing factors to achieving gender equality for regional women.

Pre-pandemic the NSW Government and the Public Sector Commission 2019 report Make Flexibility Count: Strategic Framework for the NSW Government promoted an “if not, why not” mentality to adopting flexi work models for the public sector of NSW.

This report makes a convincing case for flexi work, citing numerous benefits for both employer and employees including financial savings and increased productivity. See below references –

  • The Government committed to making all roles flexible in the NSW government sector (the sector) on the basis of ‘if not, why not’ by 2019. Flexible working is about rethinking the where, when and how work can be done, in a way that maintains or improves service delivery for the people of NSW.
  • Flexible working enables regional workers to advance in their careers without having to relocate, which can be a disincentive for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees who want to maintain their connection with community.
  • Flexibility becomes the new starting point, with different types of flexibility enabled for different roles, and scope for local innovation within teams.
  • Flexibility can also enable new business models to improve service delivery and ‘bigger picture’ contributions to society, such as travel time savings, increased participation in the workforce, and dispersing jobs out of the CBD.

The above only solidifies the current environment. Ironically, the pandemic has forced both public and private sectors to adopt new ways. The RRR Network encourages not only WA state government to be the role model on flexi work, but all employers to continue rethinking their way post-pandemic, and in the process, together we can improve regional employment and economic impendence for women and their communities.

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