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Blue-chip ANZ businesses establish flexible working ‘think tank’

  • 02 March, 2005 18:03

<p>Melbourne, 02 March 2005: A group of 17 prominent Australian and New Zealand businesses and industry groups including Westpac, IAG, the Business Council of Australia, Cisco, Pfizer and Telstra, brought together by mobile computing specialists, Toshiba (Australia) Pty Limited Information Systems Division (ISD), has been established to promote and guide the development of flexible workplace practices in Australia and New Zealand.</p>
<p>Called the ‘Toshiba Flexible Working Special Interest Group (SIG), the purpose of the group is to provide leadership in the development of flexible workplaces and create a network of flexible workplace experts and resources. The overall aim is to assist organisations improve business outcomes through the successful implementation of flexible working, thereby assisting employees achieve greater work / life balance.</p>
<p>The Toshiba Flexible Working SIG follows the Mobility and Mistrust report, commissioned by Toshiba and conducted by independent researcher, Sweeney Research, late last year. Mobility and Mistrust showed that flexible working is not commonly offered by Australian and New Zealand organisations (only a third offer the practice to employees, and of these only 26 per cent have policies in place to support it), partially because Australian managers do not trust their employees to work away from the office (see ‘additional information’ below for more detail on the Mobility and Mistrust findings).</p>
<p>The main task of the Toshiba Flexible Working SIG is to produce a management guide to flexible working, providing advice and best-practice case studies on how and why to implement flexible working. The management guide is due to be released by May 2005. To this end, the first meeting of the Toshiba Flexible Working SIG is occurring today, whilst an Intranet site has been established for members to communicate.</p>
<p>The SIG will be chaired by independent academic and business consultant, Dr James Cowley, who will lead a group of members, each of which have significant experience or a clear commitment to flexible workplace practices. Members are grouped into three areas of specialisation: organisational culture, information technology (IT) management and human resources (HR) management.</p>
<p>Dr James Cowley said: “For some time, the Government and industry groups have been concerned about the shrinking workforce in Australia, and with unemployment rates at a 28-year low, individual businesses are also starting to take notice of this problem and consider solutions which will make them attractive to employees. Offering flexible working to assist employees achieve greater work / life balance is considered to be a viable way in which organisations can improve their rates of attracting and retaining staff.”</p>
<p>Mark Whittard, general manager: Australia and New Zealand, Toshiba (ISD), said: “We had an unprecedented response to Mobility and Mistrust last year: more than 60 organisations requested a copy of the report. Businesses are increasingly realising that flexible working is a model that not only benefits employees, but it offers direct returns to the organisation itself, through savings on such things as overheads, plus the long-term gains in intellectual capital provided through being considered an attractive and reputable employer.</p>
<p>Members of the Toshiba Flexible Working SIG include:</p>
<p>- AngloGold Ashanti Australia</p>
<p>- Campbells Arnotts Australia</p>
<p>- Aspin Online Consulting</p>
<p>- CISCO</p>
<p>- DDI Consulting</p>
<p>- Dominion Breweries</p>
<p>- Etvia Corporation</p>
<p>- Insurance Australia Group (IAG)</p>
<p>- Pfizer Australia</p>
<p>- Strategic Human Resource Solutions Pty Ltd</p>
<p>- Telstra</p>
<p>- The Business Council of Australia</p>
<p>- Westpac Banking Corporation</p>
<p>- WMC Resources</p>
<p>Additional information
The principal findings of the Mobility and Mistrust report were:</p>
<p>- Mistrust of flexible workers is prevalent amongst Australian and New Zealand organisations: more than 50 per cent of respondents think managers are less trusting of flexible workers and nearly 75 per cent think employees disapprove of their colleagues who sometimes work away from the office;</p>
<p>- Most managers (75 per cent) in non-flexible workplaces said they would be unlikely to let employees work flexibly, even though nearly 50 per cent of employees would like to, if allowed;</p>
<p>- A main obstacle to the uptake of flexible working is the perceived difficulty in monitoring and supervising employees, indicating scope for greater use of performance rather than attendance-based evaluation techniques in order to increase trust. Sixty five per cent of managers and 59 per cent of employees cited monitoring and supervising as a common problem;</p>
<p>- Most organisations do not have policies to support flexible working: only 26 percent of flexible workplaces have policies, and most of these are individual, not standard across the organisation; and</p>
<p>- Technology is not considered a significant impediment to flexible work practices.</p>
<p>About Toshiba</p>
<p>Toshiba’s Information Systems Division (ISD) is a division of Toshiba (Australia) Pty Limited which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation, the seventh largest integrated manufacturer of electric and electronic equipment, with around 165,000 employees worldwide, and annual sales of over US$47 billion on a consolidated basis. With notebook market share of 24.3% (according to IDC’s Q3 2003 figures), Toshiba ISD is comfortably the Australian market share market leader.</p>
<p>Unique among vendors, Toshiba ISD specialises exclusively in mobile solutions and services and is also the only leading computer brand that is 100 per cent channel-centric. A global reputation for quality has been achieved through an R&amp;D budget roughly equal to Australia’s total expenditure as a country in this area.</p>
<p>Toshiba pioneered the notebook market in 1985 and in recent years, Toshiba ISD extended its solutions offering for Australia and New Zealand with the inclusion of a range of projectors, Pocket PCs and personal storage products.</p>
<p>Toshiba’s Virtual Pressroom:</p>

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