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How are you grappling with the ongoing influx of people choosing to make Tauranga and the Western Bay of Plenty their home?
Are there increasing numbers of people needing your services? Are you spending more time in your car to get to and from work, attend meetings or visit clients?  Whilst it allows for a bit of down time listening to the radio it can also increase stress levels when you’re running late.

For me, I’m either leaving home early (7am) to try and beat the traffic or increasingly I’ve started scheduling meetings from 10am so I can work from home then drive to work.  I am lucky and highly value this flexibility, ,I can be around for my family and spend less down time in the car.  My staff also enjoy this flexibility , not only to avoid clogged roads but to enable them to be available for their family and other commitments and I have no doubt that they work harder for it going by the number of emails I get late at night.

I am very privileged to have highly skilled and independent staff which means I can focus on the outcomes of their work rather than counting the hours they work or when and where they work which can lead to ‘presenteeism’, they’re at work but aren’t necessarily being as productive as they could be…. think Facebook, sudouku, TradeMe..  Not to mention, if all my staff did want to work 8 to 5 in the office, we wouldn’t have the room!  Although this will change when we get to enjoy the brand, spanking new co-working space – The Kollective later this year.

I’m also indebted to technology which allows this flexibility – a mobile phone and lap top – I can pretty much work anywhere at any time.  This is a blessing, but can also be a curse, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that it also means you’re available 24/7 so it can be hard to switch off (excuse the pun).

Being able to work when and where you want, within reason, is highly valued by many people.  Given our lack of funds to pay staff as much as they deserve, offering flexibility regarding when and where they work can be a significant benefit to staff.  Of course this is limited to staff who aren’t required to be always present during office hours and requires a level of trust between the manager and staff members.  Which raises the question, are standard office hours the best way to deliver services for clients and staff alike?  Mobile phones means many clients have the ability to contact staff 24/7.  I suspect the social sector is already ahead of the game in being flexible to meet the needs of clients.
How can we improve the accessibility of our services and save our clients time sitting in traffic by using technology and being more flexible in the way we work?  How can organisations benefit from flexibility for staff and in turn increase how much time we have to work with clients? This also raises the need for organisations to have the necessary digital infrastructure, a common need identified by many organisations, as reported in the For the Greater Good – Mapping the Social Sector project (watch out for the release of the report at the launch on 14 May).

Growing waiting lists, increased demand for services as the population grows and more time spent sitting in cars is increasingly compelling us to review the way we work.  As I write this at home, I am incredibly grateful that I’m not having to navigate the right hand turn into SH2 to join the unrelenting traffic heading into Tauranga, happy days.

Liz Davies