People | Telstra Careers |

Work from anywhere: our model for flexible working at Telstra

By Alex Badenoch June 11, 2021

As part of Avanade’s Future WX series, I’ve been thinking about four factors that will shape the future of how we work at Telstra as we tackle the disruption of the pandemic and move towards 2025.

The world is a very different place to the one we left behind at the beginning of 2020. Among the seismic changes that have taken place, new ways (and locations) of working are here to stay. If you’re reading this and you haven’t set foot in an office for more than a year, you’re not alone.

The end of the story has yet to be written — but you can be sure that hybrid working or work from anywhere is going to play a big role in our working lives from now until 2025 and beyond. Gartner predicts that almost 50 per cent of employees will continue to work remotely post COVID-19.

What hurdles will your business need to overcome on the journey to the workplace of the future? Here are the four factors that I believe will define your work from anywhere model as we speed towards 2025.

#1: Culture eats tech for breakfast

When we think about the future of work in the context of the past year, we already know that technology wasn’t the biggest barrier to remote working. It was culture.

We’ve been working flexibly for almost a decade, with people working an average of two days a week from home pre-pandemic. But looking back, we still had a way to go for everyone to fully embracing the flexible workplace.

What we’ve learned since is that transformation needs to be led by company values – and not tech – to be successful. And that starts with organisations questioning what kind of workplace they want to be and what kind of experience they want to offer their employees into the future.

Of course, it’s important to be able to set people up at home with laptops, video conferencing software, collaboration platforms, monitors, keyboards and mice – as a kind of remote working survival kit – but if an organisation doesn’t develop a truly agile mindset, change is simply not going to stick. Forrester found only 52 per cent of US employees agree that their company has the technology resources to allow people to work from home as necessary.

When we made the decision for 25,000 people to work from home overnight, we were fortunate to be well equipped to execute this move at speed. But many others weren’t. So, yes, tech is a big part of the puzzle. But culture is the ultimate enabler.

#2: Dispersed training will be bite-sized and continuous

Another trend that I foresee growing in prominence is training and career development for remote or dispersed teams. While the days of getting 20 people into a room for training aren’t necessarily over, it’s likely we’ll now enter a phase of continuous trickle-training.

There’s a huge shift to bite-size learning and virtual learning, with upskilling happening continuously rather than at single large event training sessions. And this lends itself to the work from anywhere model quite neatly – with training embedded more naturally into the flow of work. We’ve started this transition by encouraging people to build in 20 minutes of online learning a week and introducing virtual development days once a month for many of our Agile teams.

But the bigger challenge is managing career pathways with a dispersed employee base. There are opportunities to use data, insights and predictive tools to help link an individual employee’s career and learning tracks to specific next steps and goals.

#3: Who you hire (and where they live) will change

COVID-19 has redefined the geographical limitations of the workplace. If employees no longer need to live within a commutable distance of the office, the possibilities for hiring really open up. We can reach a whole talent pool that’s never been available to us before, in a range of jobs we never even considered could function remotely.

We’re making the most of this shift by taking a location agnostic approach to recruitment for most roles in Australia. This will only increase over the coming years as employers realise the potential benefits.

As the limitations of geography change, so do the expectations of new recruits. Being able to work from home is pretty much a given, and having ‘flexible hours’ is all very well, but what do you really mean by that? Are you giving parents part-time options? Are you allowing them to pick up their kids from school? Can employees take a gym class in the morning and make up the hour later that day? You need definitive parameters, not vague promises.

If you don’t trust your workforce to complete their tasks on their own schedule, it’s time to think long and hard about why that is—and take action to combat it. To attract and retain the top talent, workplace flexibility needs to be sewn right into your core values and thought about from every angle—not just listed on job applications as 2021’s shiny new buzzword.

#4: The workspace will be increasingly employee-centred

Another factor that will impact the work from anywhere model in the coming years is the role of the office. Do you even need one? What’s the point of an office in 2021 (or 2025)? According to Forrester, 75 per cent of CEOs said they expect their office spaces to shrink in the future because of remote working.

Of course, the office will always have its place. You might need less space, but the idea of ‘the office’ will be rethought as a hub for collaboration, for celebration, and about enabling people to get together for a purpose.

And when employees do choose to come in, it’s essential to have the tech there for booking in office days, booking a desk, booking a car space and so on. This will only get more commonplace and advanced as the years go by.

Tech is also critical for creating a seamless office experience for those who are unable to attend. Once upon a time that a person might conference call into a meeting on a speakerphone—but today, and in the future, you need smart software that enables multiple remote workers to feel just as much a part of the action as those who are physically present.

2025 and beyond

It’s exciting to witness such broad-brush changes at close hand and in such a compressed timeline. No one knows what the next few years will bring. Will we settle into a new normal and resist any further changes? Or will our desire for change maintain this state of disruption and evolution?

Alex spoke to Avanade as part of its Future WX Series.

Sakshi Banerjee home set up
Inspiration | Telstra Careers |

How to lead, drive engagement and create culture for remote workers

By Sakshi Banerjee November 2, 2020

When employees work full-time from home, it can seem harder to build the relationships, trust and sense of community that’s normally associated with working together in one location. But while there’s an element of connection lost when you communicate online versus in person, it’s not an insurmountable problem. You can create a remote team that bonds well, stays engaged and keeps up productivity – it just requires a deliberate focus.

It’s all about working out your team’s individual needs, and how they each best operate. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to keep the connection open. Keep having honest conversations about how productive everyone is feeling, and then work together to help overcome the challenges anyone may be facing.

Here’s how it’s worked for me and my teams, and the best ways I’ve found to keep them happy, engaged and motivated when working remotely.

Remote working may be your secret weapon

Flexible working policies have a lot of benefits and these can be harnessed to build up your team’s motivation and output. This can make the days a lot more pleasant for employees who have caring duties or other interests that don’t fall neatly outside of the nine to five. For instance, some of my team have been doing a bike ride in the middle of the day and that’s been fantastic for maintaining energy and motivation throughout the week.

Flexible working has plenty of benefits from a business perspective as well. It helps us attract and retain great talent, including more women as they often shoulder the majority of caring responsibilities. It also just generally creates a deeper and more authentic connection between organisations and their employees, which leads to better results for the business.

Leaders can drive motivation and productivity from afar with the right approach

I have found that the key to motivating my team remotely lies in really understanding them and what is going on in their lives. When some of my team members have begun working remotely, I’ve made sure to ask questions about their home environment and how they like to work.

This helps me to understand how people sustain their energy and I use this information to motivate them from afar. For example, on my current team, I have some real night owls and others are sharpest and most productive in the morning. By allowing everyone to work at the time they’re at their best, I keep energy levels high.

As a leader, it can also help to show your own vulnerability at times. Being upfront when you’re lacking motivation or aren’t feeling productive yourself creates a safe environment for people to share when they feel the same. Sometimes just acknowledging a lack of motivation helps people become more motivated, almost as an inverse reaction.

I also believe it’s important to dedicate time to specific team-bonding activities. In my team, we’ve been doing quizzes, which are about both our products and what’s going on in the world. I’ve heard of other teams here doing activities like dress-up days where everyone dresses up as Harry Potter, which is a great way to lighten the atmosphere.

Finally, it can be beneficial to set up a coffee with someone once a week to just chat. In my team, that’s actually had the most positive response of all. Everyone tells me how much they’re missing those casual conversations in the kitchen or in the lift, and our weekly coffee catchups have really helped bridge that gap.

Company support makes a huge difference

Our organisation has done an extraordinary job of helping people work flexibly. Flexible working is nothing new here: we’ve had it for years and it’s embedded in our culture. We trust our teams to achieve their best, no matter where they’re working from.

Are you interesting in learning more about what it’s like to work at Telstra? Head to the Telstra Careers website.

Advice | How To |

How to improve your work-from-home experience

By Luke Hopewell March 15, 2020

As we move our office-based teams to a work-from-home model, we’re all thinking about how to be most productive in a new environment. We’ve been working flexibly at Telstra for a while, and have rounded up five great tips from our team that might make your experience easier.

Improve your home Wi-Fi

Connectivity is everything when you’re working from home. Chances are, you don’t even know where your home Wi-Fi modem is at this point!

The best way to take your work-from-home experience from slow-to-whoa is to improve your Wi-Fi coverage.

Here are our tips on how to get the best home Wi-Fi experience right now.

We like to move it, move it

Working from home can be a stationary experience, which can lead to adverse health effects over a protracted period of time. That’s why it’s important to build movement into your day, focus on key stretches or just get moving around the living room!

Moving, stretching and staying active through fitness apps or even just follow-along aerobic classes on YouTube is super important.

Just as important is your diet: make sure you’re eating healthy and drinking plenty of water throughout your day.

Stay in touch

You may not realise it, but a big part of your day job is the social connection you get at the office. That’s why it’s important to make sure you stay in touch with colleagues virtually, or face-to-face if it’s safe to do so.

Leaders should also stay in touch with their teams regularly, and maintain the usual rhythms of 1:1s and team meetings.

After all, we’re inherently social creatures!

The right stuff

You may take for granted having a whole swathe of tech available at your desk, but when you’ve moved into a home environment, that gear might not be at your fingertips.

To maximise productivity, we recommend following a checklist to make sure your workspace is set up for ergonomic success. We recommend:

  • Laptop;
  • Laptop power cable
  • Laptop stand (if applicable)
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Headset
  • Headset charger

If you don’t have access to any of the following, we recommend speaking to your business about purchasing these for your home environment.

It’s also important to keep in mind your organisation’s cyber security standards while working from home, and maintain good cyber-hygiene on your connections. You can get more tips on good cyber security from our Exchange blog.

Don’t panic

This one is the most important! It’s key to recognise that social distancing and work-from-home mandates are designed as a precaution to help get ahead of things. It’s important we stay flexible so that we’re prepared should the issue escalate quickly.

Public health warnings and the outbreak of global pandemic like the coronavirus (COVID-19) can sometimes appear frightening. With continuous media coverage, unverified stories on social media and uncertain outcomes, it’s common to feel overwhelmed and worried about your, or your family’s health and wellbeing. While these feelings are understandable, if they start to interfere with your everyday life, you may be experiencing health anxiety.

During stressful times our level of resilience can help us cope when things are changing rapidly. Luckily building resilience is a process that we can develop over time by learning and using helpful techniques. Read this guide on how to build your resilience.

And don’t forget: wash your hands frequently!

Inspiration | Telstra Careers |

How All Roles Flex helps our people bring their whole selves to work

By Sundi Balu May 14, 2018

According to the Collins Dictionary, wholeness is defined as the quality of being complete or a single unit and not broken or divided into parts.

I am a great believer in allowing people to bring their 100 per cent personal self to work. As Director Global Business to Business, IT & Digital Solutions, at Telstra, with almost 700 members located in 14 offices across the world, and the added challenge of different time zones, a sense of wholeness is an essential component to our success.

Working for an organisation committed to diversity and inclusion, I don’t want any of my team members leaving parts of themselves at the office door, and collecting those pieces up and possibly leaving “work parts” behind at the end of the day. Each team member is not just a representation of their technical and professional skills. Their personal experiences influence the diversity of how and why they make their decisions and choose which actions to take in the workplace. This enriches our workplace and customers’ experiences.

Sundi Balu runs an all staff call around the globe

Of course, in encouraging my team to bring their whole self to work I must reciprocate, particularly for those who identify as carers in my team. The global definition from International Alliance of Carer Organisation (IACO) defines a carer (or caregiver / family caregiver) as ‘an unpaid individual, such as a family member, neighbour, friend or other significant individual, who takes on a caring role to support someone with a diminishing physical ability, a debilitating cognitive condition or a chronic life-limiting illness’.

Most Telstra employees are entitled to use Personal (Sick/Carers) Leave to provide care or support to a member of their immediate family or household who is sick, injured or the subject of an unexpected emergency. Through All Roles Flex, our flexible working arrangements policy, individuals can explore flexible working arrangements with their managers and teams. I do this among my own team and encourage leaders in Global Business to Business IT to do the same with their team members.

Some of my team members have carer responsibilities. This may include needing to attend regular health appointments or being able to work from home. I encourage open discussions with my team so collectively we understand how we can support those accessing carer’s leave or flexible working and make appropriate arrangements fair to all team members and the business. It is part of our team’s culture.

Sundi Balu brings his local team together

One of my team members has a son diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. He attends various education classes for his fine and gross motor skills. To help manage her carer responsibilities, she works from home one day a week. I also recognise caring for someone with these challenges means there can be some days where life does not go according to plan. On those days I understand caring comes first. I also know because of that open arrangement and understanding around flexibility, I can still rely on her to deliver.

Which brings me back to my belief of ensuring my team members can bring their whole self to work. If they compartmentalise their life then challenges become distractions. If they are welcomed into an environment whole they will be supported to give their all.

Technology moves fast and we must meet the demands of our customers. But, the careers of my team members who are also carers are also valued. Through regular check-ins I can ensure my working carers can continue to develop, while drawing on the flexible work environment.

Telstra is a carer-friendly workplace and supports its people to bring their whole selves to work.