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Key findings

The APS has for many years led by example in providing for workforce flexibility. To remain a leader in this field and take advantage of the benefits afforded by flexible work practices for employees and agencies, the APS must continue to respond to emerging trends and technologies within a framework of accountability.

The APS employs flexible working arrangements in a number of contexts to achieve employee and organisational outcomes, including as recruitment and retention initiatives, in support of employees with disability, to promote a positive workplace culture, as part of wider absence management strategies and to facilitate healthy and safe working environments. Data shows that teleworking is less widely used in the APS than in the broader community, though principally because the needs of business are seen as incompatible with teleworking. Similarly, there is less recourse to part-time work in the APS, especially by men, than elsewhere.

The majority of APS employees are satisfied with their work-life balance, the support they receive in achieving this and their access to and use of flexible work arrangements. However, the oldest and youngest segments of the workforce are the most satisfied. APS employees who had older children, who were caring for a parent or who had other caring responsibilities reported substantially lower satisfaction with their work-life balance and access to and use of flexible work arrangements than those employees who were not carers or who were caring for younger children. These results demonstrate the interdependencies in the work-life relationship, whereby differences in employee perceptions of, and interactions with, their workplaces cannot be explained by a single aspect of either.

Flex-time and part-time employment, along with the use of home-based work, were the most frequently used flexible work arrangements by APS employees in 2013. Women make up the majority of the part-time APS workforce, although men are increasingly being employed on a part-time basis.

Taken together, these results demonstrate how the APS supports flexible work arrangements and how these arrangements have been integrated into the day-to-day working experience of most employees. Using telework as a specific example, it is clear that having choice and some autonomy in decisions around how work is achieved is associated with more positive workplace perceptions. APS work environments that offer and support genuine opportunities for flexibility in the workplace will benefit from the range of positive workplace outcomes which stem from providing flexible work arrangements, such as increased productivity, lower absenteeism rates, higher levels of employee engagement and increased innovation and creativity.