Time is on my side: How flexible work can work

15 July 2021

What a difference a day makes. For Stanwell’s Courtney Brown, one less day at the office each fortnight has been the key to achieving a healthy work-life balance. 

When Courtney started out in her role as a People & Culture Advisor at Stanwell’s Tarong power stations, she worked a standard five-day, 40-hour week. A few months ago, she successfully applied for a flexible working arrangement. 

Under her flexible arrangement, those 40 hours are now compressed into a nine-day fortnight. Essentially, Courtney works an hour longer each day, but in turn, she’s able to leave early every second Thursday and take every second Friday off. 

It might not seem like a big deal – after all, she’s still working for exactly the same amount of time each fortnight. But for Courtney, those three-day weekends have been crucial. 

“I’m not from the South Burnett originally,” she explains. “I moved out here for this job. I didn’t know anyone when I got here, and I don’t have any family in the area. While I’ve been made to feel very welcome here, and everyone has been very friendly and supportive, I still miss my loved ones.” 

“Having that extra day every second week has been great, because it means I can travel to Brisbane or the Sunshine Coast and see my family and friends.”

Courtney’s flexible working arrangement also enables her team’s period of availability to be extended. 

“There’s now someone who’s covering the People & Culture team for an extra hour each day,” she says, “so there’s that benefit to the business from me staying back an hour later.

“Two of the other people in my team have their own flexible working arrangements, but we’ve organised it so that they have the opposite Friday off to me. So, if I’m here on a Friday, they’re not here, and vice versa, and that way we make sure we’re always covered.” 

There are busy weeks when it isn’t practical for Courtney to take Friday off – but that’s the beauty of a flexible working arrangement, as opposed to a set roster. 

“There are definitely weeks when it would be good to have that extra time in the office,” Courtney says, “but that’s why it’s flexible. If I need to stay back on a Thursday when I’d usually finish earlier, or come in on a Friday that I’d usually have off, I can do that, and get the hours back later. My manager is very supportive in that sense. And of course, if she needs me to come to work on a Friday when I’m rostered off, I’ll do that. So, the flexibility works both ways.” 

Courtney is also a member of the Inclusion & Diversity working group at Tarong power stations, and can see how flexible working arrangements allow for a more inclusive workforce. 

“Offering flexible schedules to suit people’s personal life arrangements definitely helps you to cast a wider net,” she says. “Mothers and fathers, for instance, obviously benefit from flexible work arrangements so they can be with their young kids or have time to drop them off at day care and school. Flexible working arrangements absolutely go hand-in-hand with diversity and inclusion.”

Of course, flexible working arrangements won’t work for everybody, or be suitable for every role. But where possible, they’re increasingly favoured by employers because of their potential to boost staff morale and reduce the risk of burnout. That’s definitely been the case for Courtney. 

“It does give you that sense of work-life balance,” she says. “If you’re happier outside work, I think it definitely makes it easier to focus on the work you’re doing when you’re there.”