Australian dads offered new-look flexible work options

COVID-19 has allowed many dads in Australia to spend more time with their families, while working from home, a new research has found, while urging more to be done to support flexi-work arrangements.
By: | April 17, 2020

While working from home may be enforced because of the COVID-19 outbreak, many Australian dads are enjoying the benefits of engaging with their families. At the same time, they are proving to employers that remote working can be just as viable as working in a traditional office environment.

Commenting on her new research, Dr Ashlee Borgkvist, University of South Australia researcher with the Centre for Workplace Excellence, said, “In Australia, most dads tend to work full-time, limiting the time they can spend with their families. Now, as so many businesses have shifted to work-from-home scenarios, the current norm is changing, with everyone – children, families and workplaces – realising the benefits.”

She added that while flexible or part-time work arrangements have always been available, Australian dads have been hesitant in using them, owing to multifaceted reasons such as their perceptions of the ideal worker, workplace cultures, and long-held constructions of masculinity.

“But ideas of what comprises an ideal worker or good workplace culture will inevitably be challenged because of COVID-19, as all tiers of workers – managers and executives alike – embrace social measures.”

Calling for a move away from traditional mindsets,  Dr Borgkvist said gender imbalances continue to occur in working hours and arrangements, with dads of children under 12 years of age working an average of 40-46 hours per week, in comparison to mothers who work around 28 hours a week. Similarly, most dads are in full-time work, with less than a third taking advantage of any flexible work arrangements, and fewer than 10% on part-time work arrangements.

Lamenting that there has been hardly any growth over the last decade of Australian dads working more flexibly, she urged organisations to show more transparency where workplace policies, options and entitlements for flexible work are concerned.

“We need to see more organisations model and support flexible working arrangements for dads, which will help build a positive and supportive culture for men who might want to use flexibility. We need open communications and transparent workplace policies about flexible work for all; and we need dads to step up and challenge organisational and societal norms.”