Remote and flexible work is becoming increasingly normal in digital industries, however surprisingly few employers in the Queensland market actually offer it as a perk. Countless studies prove that employees with work-from-home benefits are generally more productive, happier and less likely to job jump. Why is QLD so far behind the curve?

 

How I began working remotely

In early 2017, I started working semi-remotely for Virgin Australia to reduce the stress of my almost 2 hour commute each way after moving south of Brisbane. We schedule most meetings and presentations when I’m in the office, I’m always contactable via chat, phone or email and I try to keep my calendar as open as possible in case something urgent demands I’m sitting at my desk. I’m grateful for this perk and it’s renewed my love for work. I’ve been told my enthusiasm and focus reflects in what I create.

 

Flexible work is rare in Queensland

When local tech recruiters reach out to me on LinkedIn, they seem surprised and envious when I explain my situation. A few mentioned they’re even in the process of pitching similar working arrangements with their own employer. They always remind me how lucky I am to work for a corporation that whole-heartedly supports flexibility.

If you provide the right technology to keep in touch, maintain regular communication and get the right balance between remote and office working, people will be motivated to work responsibly, quickly and with high quality.
— Richard Branson

The culture of flexible working seems to be missing in Queensland, despite employers in the tech industry offering other modern perks like a relaxed environment, Friday arvo drinks and office pets. I’ve worked in offices with these awesome perks but flexible work is a game changer. Providing this benefit signals to employees that the business trusts they can work without needing to micro-manage their schedules and respects their rights to a good work-life balance.

It also saddens me to hear tech goliaths like IBM and Yahoo taking a step backwards and abandoning remote work completely. Stripping employee benefits will undoubtedly come back to haunt them when they realise their talent pool has shrunk and retention rates plummet.

 

Loyal employees will leave if they aren’t provided flexibility

A friend and colleague from a previous job recently put together a proposal to work remotely but was outright denied by his rigid employer. After years of loyal service, his company’s lack of flexibility forced him to resign so he could pursue his dream of becoming a digital nomad. He’s now travelling the globe, working remotely for a successful San Francisco startup in a similar role and has rekindled his joy of working. If his former employer had given him the flexibility he had earned, they would’ve retained an incredibly talented guy and saved time and money hiring his replacement.

As the relatively small tech industry in Queensland grows, I’m hoping a strong culture of flexible working conditions builds too as the benefits to employers and employees are hard to ignore.