Why International Remote Working Arrangements Need to be the New Norm
By Nadia Setianto
Having grown up watching my dad go to the office early and come home late every weekday, I thought I would have to go through the same thing too as an adult. However, my perception changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. While the pandemic negatively impacted people, businesses, and industries all over the world, it gave desk-job folks an important blessing and that is: flexible working.
Companies all around the world were initially forced to send their employees home and ramp up their digital efforts to allow employees to work remotely. Meetings that had to be done in-person suddenly shifted online and the hours that were spent on commuting back and forth were saved. As time went by, companies learned that people are equally as productive, if not more, whilst working from home. With this discovery, companies big and small started enacting flexible work policies.
Fast forward to 2022, Covid-19 seems to have become part of a ‘new normal’ and companies are starting to demand their employees to come back into the office. While encouraging a return to the office is important to maintain company culture, it’s important that organisations still offer and are continuing to expand their flexible working policies.
I am lucky enough to be part of a company that offers an abundance of flexible working arrangements, one of them being Publicis Re’Union. Publicis Re’Union is a flexible working benefit which offers staff with immediate family members interstate and overseas, the option to take extended leave and/or work remotely from anywhere in the world. With the policy, I was able to work remotely from Indonesia for almost a month, which gave me enough time to catch-up with family whom I haven’t seen in two years.
With that, I want to share three key points around why flexible work arrangements, such as Publicis Re’Union, need to be the new norm.
1) Flexible working boosts mental health
Not being able to see my family, coupled with lockdowns and the joys of living alone (note the sarcasm), really took a toll on my mental health. There were multiple times when I thought of going back home and abandoning the life I had built for myself in Australia. During those times, my family provided a great deal of support and encouraged me to stay.
According to a 2022 survey by LifeWorks Australia, 60 per cent of Australian workers place flexible work over career advancement and 33 per cent agree that flexible work is the most valuable action that their company has taken to support mental health. When I was reunited with my family, it significantly improved my mental health as for that time being, I wasn’t living alone and I finally got to see them. The knock-on effect of my mental health improving is I became more productive and focused.
2) Flexible working improves work-life balance
A survey by Randstand Australia and New Zealand found that 26 per cent of workers surveyed agree that flexible work policies results to good work-life balance. This may be a contentious one, but I found that whilst I was working remotely, my work-life balance improved significantly. With Sydney being four hours ahead of Jakarta, I was logging in and logging off earlier. This meant I was able to spend time and run errands with my family whilst the sun was still up, and stores were still open.
It’s the same with people who are working whilst visiting their family interstate or just a few minutes outside of the city. Even though they are working the same hours, they are saving time on a commute, which ensures there’s more time to spend with family and loved ones.
3) Flexible working increases employee loyalty
Personally, I was over the moon when Herd MSL allowed me to work remotely, especially from overseas and with the time difference. Team members were also very accommodating in moving things around to adjust with my log-in and log-off hours. Most importantly, even though I was working remotely, those days were not counted towards any kind of leave.
The flexibility and understanding showcased by Herd and my colleagues whilst I was working remotely reminded me of why I chose to work and stay in the company. And I know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Plenty of research has shown a significant uptick in job satisfaction amongst employees when their company offers flexible working arrangements.
Whilst flexible working policies are expected of a company today, organisations should look to continuously expand their existing arrangements for the sake of their employees’ mental health and job satisfaction.
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