Flexible Work Father and Daughter

There can be no doubt that the Covid-19 crisis has changed the way we work. Across the country, HR professionals and managers have had to adapt to the imposed 'work from home' model that many organisations were forced into.

Almost a year on and HRD Magazine spoke with Anita Patrick, Human Resources Director at PepsiCo about the challenges of managing employees amid the ongoing restrictions that continue to be enforced in certain states across Australia.

PepsiCo are part of our Employer Membership network and we are inspired by the resilience and adaptability the company has shown.

Below is a section of the article from HRD Magazine highlighting what Anita shared.

“We’ve got a really strong COVID management team, which consists of myself, government affairs and EHS. We're responding to the changes, both in Melbourne and Sydney as and when they come up, so it's really a live decision-making process.”

As well as offices in Sydney and Melbourne, PepsiCo operates manufacturing plants across Queensland, Victoria and South Australia, with employees moving between locations.

“In addition to sort of the office regulations, we also have to consider how we can safely move people around the country,” Patrick said.

Last July, PepsiCo brought in a FlexTime policy, essentially putting an end to the traditional 9-5 working day.

It allows employees to decide their own start times, as well as work split shifts to suit their family or personal needs.

Reflecting on that policy, Patrick said it has been successful in opening up the dialogue around flexibility between employees and managers.

Now, they’re seeing employees in the Sydney office spending around 30-50% of their time in the office and the rest at home, or at client sites.

As well as suiting the needs of employees, it also benefits the COVID-safe aspect of needing to manage social distancing within an office space.

The HR team facilitated micro learning sessions on flexibility and visibility after the initial lockdown period had ended last year.

Those sessions aimed to equip managers with skills to lead remote teams in the best way possible.

Patrick said learning and development will continue to play a key role in maintaining the success of flexible working at PepsiCo.

Managers have their own natural disposition towards leading remote teams, especially for those who have never done it before, and while some are open to granting requests, others may fear losing control.

It requires new skills and a mindset change to strike the balance between maintaining productivity and satisfying employee demand for better work/life balance.

“We recognised that we couldn't solve the problems through policy or rules, it genuinely needed to be flexible,” Patrick said. “We needed to help build skills for our managers to be able to manage the dialogue around flexibility.”

To read the full article from HRD Magazine click here