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.

Ankita in an online team meeting
Inspiration | Telstra Careers |

An insight into working in Telstra’s virtual team environment

By Ankita Suryavanshi June 15, 2020

As someone who has recently joined a new team at Telstra, taking the leap from working in the office to being part of a virtual team has required some adaptation.

There are, of course, certain challenges that come with working remotely, but I have found that there are numerous benefits as well. Most importantly, Telstra has such a fantastic culture, with a strong emphasis on teamwork, supporting each other and continuous learning. This has resulted in a feeling of connection and the ability to stay productive regardless of where I’m located.

What my days look like

When we started working remotely, I was pretty much freestyling it and getting up just before office hours. But soon I realised that this routine was making me miserable, so I decided to create a timetable.

Though the basic structure stays the same – wake early, do a home workout, work, play with my dog, spend time with my family and watch TV – I do different things every day to avoid getting bored.

For example, my workouts vary between an online class, yoga or a walk, and my exact working and lunch hours depend on what meetings I have throughout the day. I also make sure that I stretch my legs at some point or sit outside for ten minutes in the sun.

The benefits of working remotely

The biggest benefit for me has been the change in my work-life balance. I don’t spend any time commuting to work, which means I have more time to spend with my family. Before, the only time my entire family would get together and talk our day was during dinner. Now, we use that time to learn new recipes and cook them together and have a lot more family movie nights.

In terms of the workload, I feel like my stress levels have lessened. I used to always be worried about finishing everything on time because I had to leave to get home or to other commitments. Now, I can just work a little later if I want to get something done, and then take the night off.

I’m also enjoying the lack of commuting. Travelling takes a lot out of you, especially if you live far from the office, like me where it takes an hour door to door. It doesn’t sound too bad but it’s quite exhausting during peak hour!

And the challenges

The biggest struggle has been not being able to see my colleagues and friends from work. I didn’t think it would be a big deal since we have great collaboration tools, but I didn’t consider how much I had gotten used to having people around me.

I miss the snack runs with my friends in the Telstra Graduate Program, the coffee catch-ups with my leader, and even just walking up to someone and asking for help. But again, as with everything else, I’ve adjusted, and it’s gotten easier.

Another challenge is keeping my home life and work life separate. Because my computer is nearby all the time when I am at home, it can be easy to ‘just check this one email and then close my laptop’ – but once you open that laptop, it can take a long time to close. So, you really need to make sure that you resist the temptation. My suggestion would be that once you decide that you’ve finished work for the day, do an activity that distracts you, such as cooking or watching a movie.

A great team keeps you connected and engaged

I’ve been surrounded by the best co-workers throughout my time here. My new team is no exception. They’re very close-knit and when I joined, they instantly made me feel like a valued team member. Everyone is always encouraging and willing to help, which for me is a big motivator. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my leader and other team members to learn about the team’s goals and the fact they’re available to share their thoughts with me has kept me connected and engaged since I started.

We always make sure that our cameras are on when we have team calls so that we can see each other. And once a week we have a ‘walking meeting’, where everyone goes for a walk and dials into the meeting via their mobile phone. We started this to make sure that we’re not always sitting at our desks and are getting a bit of a break.

You learn so much as a graduate at Telstra and it’s such an enjoyable place to work. Moving into a remote working situation, for the time being, has been made a lot easier by the supportive, friendly and engaged culture of the company, which has continued despite the shift into a virtual work environment. I feel very lucky to be a part of the Telstra team.

If you’re interested in beginning your career at a company that’s committed to supporting the development of their people, check out our jobs.

Dylan and Leon Radcliffe, second-time dad
Community | People | T22 | Telstra Careers | Telstra News |

Our new dads embrace our parental leave policy

By Kylie Fuller December 2, 2019

We’ve been named number two on the list of best workplaces for new dads according to research conducted by HBF Health and CoreData.

Since we announced changes to our parental leave policy in July, more than 400 Telstra dads have taken up the new entitlements which are designed so that every new Australian based parent, regardless of gender, can share caring responsibilities while maintaining their career.

Changing our policy removed the distinction between primary and secondary carers. Now, any eligible parent who has been with Telstra for a year or more can take up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave within the first 12 months after their child’s birth or placement. Secondary carers previously received two weeks of paid leave.

And there’s added flexibility – it can be taken in one block or multiple blocks and can also be used to return to work on a part-time basis.

We talk to some of the new dads here who are loving the new policy.

First-time dad – Steve Papayianis

Operations Specialist – providing operational support to the Telstra Business Technology Centre

Steve and Jordan Papayianis, first-time dad

Jordan Papayianis was born on August 17, 2019 to Steve and Jo. The first-time parents were excited, in love, anxious and wide-eyed as their world had just changed forever. This is his story.

I took off five weeks from the birth to help care for Jordan and help Jo as she recovered and adapted to motherhood.

What I really love about the policy is its flexibility in allowing me to take the 16 weeks in intervals, meaning I can spend quality time with Jordan during different phases of the first 12 months of his life.

The extra time at home gave Jo and I the chance to really go into parenthood as a team. It’s also allowed me to spend quality time with Jordan and enjoy moments I would have otherwise missed.

I’m extremely fortunate to be part of a very flexible team and supportive manager who continually promotes the values of family and work-life balance.

Second-time dad – Dylan Radcliffe

Enterprise Architect – lead solution architect on the Consumer and Small Business Digitisation Program

Dylan and Leon Radcliffe, second-time dad

Leon Radcliffe arrived in April to join big brother Eric who is five years old. Dylan has worked at Telstra for 17 years and is relishing the new parental leave policy combined with All Roles Flex. This is his story.

I took two weeks off when Leon was born and I am taking another five weeks over January, which enables me to take on greater parental responsibility and support my partner as she prepares to return to work.

I believe society has started to acknowledge that women do more than their fair share of domestic work in general, including parenting, and that dads need to lift their game.

We’ve shown real leadership in this policy change by acknowledging that both parents have a role to play, not just the primary carer (very often the mum). From a personal perspective, this has given me an opportunity to spend more time off work with my youngest son Leon than was possible back when my eldest was born.

As a leader myself, I believe it is vital we take care of our people – one of our values is show you care, after all. Part of that is recognising their home responsibilities including as parents or carers and providing flexible working arrangements to help with this.

Soon-to-be-dad – Mark Soffer

Global Footprint Principal – leading the Global Footprint function which coordinates on what Telstra does across the globe

Mark and Sasha Soffer, expecting their first child in February

Mark and his wife Sasha are expecting their first baby in February. Sasha is a doctor and won’t be able to take much time off, so Mark is taking a different approach to parental leave. This is their story.

The new parental leave policy has literally been life-changing for me. I’m not just taking the 16 weeks, I’m taking 32 weeks at half pay to stay home with our child and enable my wife to focus on her medical career.

This wasn’t something that we had considered when we decided to start a family, but the new policy has meant we have been able to prioritise as a family what works best for us and our baby.

The leadership that we’ve shown by introducing this policy has meant that I haven’t had to choose between being a dad and working full time as we bring our baby into the world.

Inspiration | People | Telstra Careers |

Five years on: balancing work and life with All Roles Flex

By Alex Badenoch September 18, 2019

This year marks the fifth anniversary of our All Roles Flex approach to work. It’s an approach we introduced because we’re committed to helping our people bring their whole selves to work – and a key part of this is creating a culture that embraces flexibility in all its forms.

We’ve adopted a very broad definition of flexibility, recognizing that it means different things to different people. For example, it might mean working outside normal business hours or from different locations, job sharing, or even having the ability to express a preference for certain scheduled shifts.

As a leading telecommunications and technology company, we’re able to provide our people with the connectivity, technology and tools to enable remote working. We’ve also focused on creating the right culture – one which recognises the benefits of diversity and flexibility, and where people feel empowered to manage their roles in a way that works best for them – and Telstra.

Our purpose at Telstra is to build a connected future so everyone can thrive.

And our people consistently tell us that flexibility helps them thrive – at work and at home. It appeals to a range of people across all demographics and has helped increase the representation of female candidates – a number of whom have told us they applied to join Telstra because of our openness about flexibility. In our 2018 employee engagement survey, 80 per cent of respondents reported working flexibly, and more recently in our monthly pulse surveys 87 per cent of respondents have said they’re able to access flexible working and balance their work and personal life.

We’re proud that we’ve been able to maintain the level people are using All Roles Flex as we change how we work through T22 – we were the first Australian organisation to commit to this flexible approach, and we’re committed to continuing to prioritise fairness and opportunity.

We asked our people their lived experiences of All Roles Flex over the last five years. Below are just a few of their stories.

Derek Harvey

When my partner and I were told our much-loved golden retriever Henry had aggressive lymphoma, we were both devastated at the diagnosis and galvanised to do what we could to treat him. Knowing that I could make use of Telstra’s All Roles Flex policy meant I could schedule Henry’s specialist chemo, radiation and follow-up appointments around my work and not have to take regular leave. Fast-forward 18 months and Henry has been in remission now for over a year and is back to normal – much to our relief (and our considerably lighter bank account).

Charmayne Hales

I’m extremely grateful to be able to access Telstra’s All Roles Flex. It allows me the flexibility to complete school drop-offs and pick-ups, plus I can participate in school activities. I get the best of both worlds – my career and not missing out on the once-in-a-lifetime events in my daughter’s life. On top of that, it means I can live where I love – regional Victoria. While I do travel into the Melbourne office from time to time, I have the flexibility to work out of Telstra’s Wendouree office in Ballarat. I have complete work-life balance, allowing me more time with my family and my passions – horse riding and breeding pure-bred cats.

Emma McClelland

As a parent of a child with a genetic disorder that prevents them from creating serotonin – which is what makes people happy – the ability to work from home has been invaluable. Prior to the diagnosis, my child’s mental health was very tenuous, and we had a period where lockdown was required. Had I worked for another organisation, I am not sure I would have been able to support my child’s recovery and ongoing needs and appointments. I am very lucky to have had such support and flexibility.

Judith Newton

Being able to work flexibly enables me to pursue my passion and still have a family life with my husband and – of course – work full-time! I can keep my horses in competition and at their peak because I can attend needed daytime appointments with them to keep them healthy and work them in daylight (particularly relevant in winter) to keep them, and I, fit.

Working from home when we have an appointment means I am onsite when required which minimises the time impact in work hours and allows me to have a more normal after-hours life – I don’t have to work all evening to catch up as I don’t have travel time.

Telstra’s purchased leave policy has also been helpful as I can take additional time to attend clinics and competitions, whilst still having “normal” family holidays. Thanks to this, I have won a double title at the South Australian State Show Jumping Championships (2017) with one horse and an amateur title at the South Australian State Dressage Championships (2019) with the other.

These are my boys – the grey is Sea Sabre (showjumping) and the chestnut is Sea Sprite (dressage).

Tamara Somers

As a single parent and a sufferer of two chronic illnesses, All Roles Flex is the difference between being able to work full-time and not being able to at all. This gives me the ability to be financially independent, which I wouldn’t be if I couldn’t work full-time flexibly.

I work from home three days a week so I can manage medical appointments and kids’ activities. I love that my leader trusts me to deliver results and is not concerned by when or where I work, and that I feel like a valued team member even though I only see most of my team one day a week.

Father playing with his children in the living room for Father's Day
Inspiration | People | Telstra Careers |

All dads flex: celebrating inclusion and flexibility this Father’s Day

By Kylie Fuller August 30, 2019

Creating an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive, personally and professionally, is a priority for us at Telstra. We’ve listened to our people and put policies in place to support their priorities. In celebration of Father’s Day, some of our Telstra dads have shared how this is paying off for them and their families.

It’s important for us that all of our people can bring their wholes selves to work and feel empowered to balance their work and life in a way that works for them and our business. So we’ve focused a lot on flexibility and fairness – for everyone.

For example, our All Roles Flex approach to work gives our people flexibility and choice in where, how and when they perform their roles. This may mean working outside normal business hours or from different locations, job sharing, or even having the ability to express a preference for certain scheduled shifts. This kind of flexibility is enabled by the technology and tools our people need to connect with their teams and customers anywhere, any time.

Beyond flexible working, we’ve also recently changed our parental leave policy to make it fairer and more flexible for all. We did this by removing the distinction between primary and secondary carers and providing more flexibility in how the leave can be taken.

We recently asked some of the dads at Telstra for their experiences of working flexibly, and we wanted to share their stories.

Happy Father’s Day to all for this Sunday.

We hope you are showered with socks, jocks, chocolates and love!

Tim McMahon – Technical Expert, Clayton

It has been 4 weeks since Evelyn was born. 😍 Time flies!

Back to work on Monday. I’ll take the remaining 12 weeks paid leave later on. 😊

The parental leave policy was a wonderful surprise for my wife, Yuanyuan, and I. It has been a bit of a rollercoaster from the time the midwife, Cassie, handed Evelyn to me while she focused on keeping my wife awake after having lost so much blood.

By taking the first four weeks off, this policy has helped my wife recover and allowed me to spend more time with our family at home. I plan on taking the remainder of the leave over the summer holidays and again when my wife would like to re-enter the workforce as a Software Developer.

The culture and support at Telstra has made me proud to work here.

Wayan Hadi – Multi-Domain Sales Specialist, Melbourne

As most families with newborns will appreciate, finding a balance between being productive at work and enjoying meaningful time with your child can be very challenging. For me, it often meant rushing home for our nighttime routine which would see me spend perhaps 45-minutes per day with my son.

The recent Parental Leave policy change has allowed me to spend real, quality time with Emerson and enjoy some of those “first” moments I otherwise would’ve missed. It’s also given us the freedom to visit immediate family living overseas who haven’t yet been able to meet Emerson (something that would have been previously hard to navigate).

The memories we’re creating as a family unit are immeasurable and I’m so pleased that other families will have the opportunity to do the same.

Cameron Young – Product Marketing Senior Specialist, Melbourne

Working flexibly isn’t something you truly value until it becomes available to you.

As a new dad, I’ve taken full advantage of Telstra’s flexible working policy. I’m able to support my family with time at home; both planned and short-notice, without missing a beat or lowering my productivity. I’ve fully embraced the tools and structures that allow us to work flexibly, and I’m proud to be part of an organisation that has availed this style of working.

I feel supported in my role as a new parent and can manage my time appropriately; not just after hours or weekends. I feel confident that I have the tools and structures required to stay connected and productive. As an employee, the benefits aren’t exclusive to working from home. I can seamlessly co-locate with stakeholders both inter-floor, inter-office and even internationally. I can maintain productivity while on the move, in the car, at home, in an airport, with minimal disruption. I’m able to take full advantage of all the hours in the day.

Robert Milanovic – Technical Solutions Support Tester, Townsville

I’m about to take the first set of parental leave (out of four) to be with my son Hamish. He’s our firstborn and now five months old so he’s at the stage where it seems like he’s developing new skills and personality in front of my eyes – just being around him brings me such joy.

He already has an action-packed schedule with swimming lessons, group rhythm time and hangouts with his new baby friends and their parents. Being part of that journey is so amazing and the new parental leave policy update will help me be there.

Here’s an older photo of us (he’s 3ish months here) but it’s probably my favourite.

Adam Flegg – Product Specialist, Melbourne

Adam Flegg – Product Specialist, Melbourne

All Roles Flex has meant a lot to my family. I am married with two boys aged 10 and 7. My 10-year-old Jack has Autism Spectrum Disorder and my wife works in retail, meaning her hours change constantly.

Having the ability to work from home allows me to take my boys to and from school, removing the need for before or after school care – something Jack struggles with immensely.

It also allows me to be there for exciting things at school, like swimming!