The changing face of flexible working


Macquarie Group

87% of employees in Macquarie's Banking and Financial Services division work flexibly. There are many reasons - or sometimes absolutely no reason at all. Hear Katie Moran, Campbell Hor and Kate Fraser's stories.

Flexible working: a two-way street

Client Experience (CX) Transformation Manager Katie Moran has worked for Macquarie for six years, across four different roles, and she's always been able to work flexibly.

Katie has taken advantage of the many ways employees can work flexibly. “At various times I've used study leave, purchased additional leave for longer holidays, worked from home, and used staggered start and finish times".

Now, in her current role, she's enjoying a different type of flexible working.

“I used to use flex ad hoc, for letting in tradespeople, going to dance classes or leaving early to visit my parents for the weekend," Katie says. “Over time it's morphed into a more routine structure. I work from home every Friday and use this time strategically for my thinking time and creative planning."

Working from home suits Katie's personality and work style, as well as giving her a work/life balance.

“I recharge on my own. Plus, my partner is a shift worker and we only see each other at breakfast. So I protect my Friday mornings until I sit down at 9 am".

Katie believes for flexible working to be effective for everyone there needs to be give-and-take.

“It's a two-way street. I can't expect my manager to enable flex for me if I'm not being flexible for them," she says. “Transparency and communication are key. So is a good routine that matches your work style."

What Macquarie offers in terms of flexible working may be becoming more standard across the financial services industry but Katie says what sets Macquarie's approach apart is the trust the organisation places in its employees. The Banking and Financial Services division has eliminated much of the paperwork and procedure usually associated with a flexible work arrangement.

"Reducing the formality around flexible working has been the biggest win for us," says Katie. It's what makes it really work. Once I’d discussed flexibility with my manager, I don't have to ask permission each time I want to work flexibly – I just say I’m doing it, and that instils confidence."

“Macquarie has benefited from my flexibility, and so have I. I'm a healthier, happier, more productive person and that's good for me as well as for the people working around me."

Flex is just a part of how we work

The motto of “flex for any reason or no reason at all" represents Campbell Hor's Macquarie experience. As he says, "there isn't a typical reason for working flexibly".

"In my team, there's always someone working flexibly. Some have children, some don't. Flex is for everyone. It is just a part of how we work".

Campbell has enjoyed flexible working since he joined Macquarie in a part-time role seven years ago, working four days a week in the contact centre as he was finishing university studies.

He now works full-time as a business analyst and takes advantage of working from home or flexible hours.

“Currently, I work from home if I have a rental inspection or need to take deliveries or let in tradespeople. It doesn't have to be booked in. Recently we had a really bad storm and half the team was working from home. Our technology allows us to do that so it was business as usual."

Campbell says, from his point of view, flexible working allows him to stay focused both psychologically and emotionally. It also lets him do his job without worrying about how to squeeze in some of life's practicalities, such as making a doctor's appointment or going to the gym.

"Delivering outcomes for our business and our clients is key – you’re still accountable to for getting the work done. But if I wasn't able to be flexible it could be quite stressful and distracting."

Campbell says that over his time at Macquarie, he's noticed flexible working has become both more available and more advocated for in the culture.

“Flexible working has come a long way," says Campbell. “I've seen it grow and develop - technology is part of this growth but it's cultural too."

“As time goes by it becomes a more intrinsic feature of the way we work."

Technology has even enabled flexible working for some employees previously unable to imagine working remotely. This includes employees in the contact centre where Campbell started out. There is now an entire team working remotely in our client contact centre.

Campbell believes the cultural transformation within the Banking and Financial Services division has been successful in part because of the leaders.

“We have had really strong leadership that has encouraged flexibility."

We've come a long way with flex

Kate Fraser's Macquarie career began 11 years ago in the client service and operations team. However, it was in 2013, while on parental leave, that she first experienced the benefits of working remotely.

At the time, Kate performed some work at home to help her team out during an exceptionally busy period. She would have liked the arrangement to continue but flexible working wasn't a common feature of her team back then.

Faced with the prospect of bringing up a young family with a daily two-and-a-half hour commute each way, Kate decided to work from home as a consultant. This meant she could continue her relationship with Macquarie on a contract basis.

In 2018, and now with two children, she found out there was a permanent role going in Macquarie's Wealth Adviser Services team so she asked about returning but working remotely.

“I knew that things had changed and that flexible working is quite common now across Macquarie," Kate says. “Because I'd had those five years contracting and working at home, I also knew that I could do it - it would work for me and I would be productive".

Things certainly had changed from Kate's early experiences. She returned as an employee, working four days a week. Three days she works from her home office in the NSW Southern Highlands, and once a week she travels to the Sydney office.

Kate says this gives her the best of both worlds.

“I get to meet colleagues and get to know them so I'm not just a person in the background," Kate says. “It's nice to have company."

“But I find it better, in terms of the volume of work that I'm able to do when I work at home. You just put your head down and go for it."

For Kate, one of the big benefits of flexibility is being able to see more of her children: “Whether it’s through working from home, flexible hours or during school breaks the School Holiday Programs that Macquarie runs, I know I am supported to work in the way that is best for my family.”

She says Macquarie also receives a return on its investment in flex by gaining dedicated, productive employees.

“I know because I am happier and achieve more than I would if I was in the office every day."