AND’s March Roundtable wrap up: the value of understanding
Mon 29 March 2021
Last week AND held our first Roundtable of the year. Hosted by our own Catherine Winter, the virtual event had over 160 attendees who tuned in to hear from two of speakers on flexible work, and from Australia Post on gaining Disability Confident Recruiter (DCR) status.
All three speakers emphasised the importance of understanding in supporting staff with disability.
The future of flexible work
As workplaces shift to hybrid and flexible working styles, where employees work from both the office and from home, organisations must ensure they support their employees to continue to work productively across any location they chose to work from.
Adrian Letilovic, Virtual Office Manager at Deloitte, discussed strategies that Deloitte had implemented and provided advice for organisations who may find it challenging to work in a hybrid and heavily virtual environment.
His top tips were:
- Conduct research within your organisation to find out how to best support employees working flexibly. Also look at your organisation’s broader diversity and inclusion goals and locate areas you can drive accessibility and inclusion in other employee experience areas as part of the flexible working support.
- Design an inclusive and accessible approach to flexible working that supports people with disability.
- Ensure your workplace premises are accessible when redesigning and rethink the use of your workspace to better support your staff in this new way of working.
- Support virtual and digital practices with accessible digital tools such as online whiteboards, Microsoft Teams and other interactive platforms..
- Stay connected with your colleagues and have open conversations with your colleagues, to support the health and wellbeing of the team.
Adrian acknowledged that the flexible working as we know it today is still new, and managers and teams alike will take time to adapt to this new normal. Having open conversations is vital in this new way of working to ensure staff are able to work equitably in the new environment through support from their employers.
Adrian also offered some questions for consideration “How do we start building into our day a different routine? One that is more catered towards this new way of interaction, so that we are getting the best from people?”
Stepping Into Intern Ruth Wong shared her personal experience of working flexibly. Starting her Stepping Into internship in December with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Ruth worked remotely throughout the duration of her internship, except for five days in the office.
Ruth believes that COVID-19’s ignition of working remotely has been largely beneficial in helping her manage her depression and anxiety.
“I am no longer looking at special circumstances to work from home, everybody’s doing it,” she says. Ruth believes that the acceptance with working flexibly has provided an equitable level of participation.
Working flexibly allowed Ruth to manage her disability. It allowed her to create a plan that worked best for her, so the organisation was certain they were getting the best from her.
“I am able to self manage my work, self manage my illness, do self-care when needed. It has been a really good experience having that flexibility with my working hours.”
For organisations looking to embrace flexible working and support staff with disability, Ruth emphasises the importance of listening to each individual’s requirements and not make blanket generalisations.
“Listen to the individual’s specifics. Listen to what the person needs. Create that environment where people are able to share.”
Ruth says that approaching conversations with staff with disability as a person-to-person conversation rather than a manager-to-employee conversation can create environments that allow staff to seek assistance comfortably and safely.
Australia Post the largest organisation to achieve DCR
Danielle Brodie, Diversity and Employer Brand Consultant at Australia Post, highlighted the comprehensiveness of the Disability Confident Recruiter program, discussing that while there were big changes and alterations the team made, small changes could equally break down barriers that prevent people with disability from applying for roles.
“It just requires a little bit of empathy, and a little bit of lateral thinking to just tweak a process and make a small adjustment. It changes the whole experience for the candidate… We are really excited to have opened ourselves up and extended our talent pool to include lots of people that potentially it may not have included in the past.”
If you missed the March Roundtable, you can access the recording on the member section of our website.