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

Telstra Careers Inspiration

Posted on September 18, 2019

5 min read

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.

Creating equality for new parents

Inspiration

Posted on July 1, 2019

4 min read

We’re relentlessly committed to diversity, inclusion and flexibility. This includes helping our team bring their whole selves to work and having the flexibility to balance their professional and personal lives.

Our Diversity and Inclusion strategy takes a holistic view of diversity – we will listen more, prioritise fairness and promote opportunities for under-represented groups within our business.

And now we’ve changed our Australian parental leave policy. The bottom line?

We want every parent, regardless of gender, to be able to share caring responsibilities while maintaining their career.

Removing boundaries, prioritising fairness

This change removes the distinction between primary and secondary carers, which are often linked to traditional gendered roles. Now, any eligible parent who has been with us 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.

There’s also more flexibility in how this leave can be taken. Parental leave can now be taken in one block or multiple blocks, and can be used to return to work on a part-time basis as needed. This is in addition to our All Roles Flex approach that helps our people manage their work and life in a way that works for them.

Equal and shared parenting enables better gender equality in the workplace and reflects our changing society where both parents contribute to caring and family commitments.

This change is already having a positive effect on the lives of some of our people, and it’s being welcomed and supported by many others. Mike and Yvette are two examples.

Mike Bowers, Senior Product Specialist

New father to twin girls born in May 2019.

I think this is a major step in the right direction for gender equality. As a company I think we want to challenge gender stereotypes and this speaks volumes.

As first-time parents embarking on the challenge of caring for our beautiful twin girls, I was faced with a dilemma – be a great employee or be a great father. Before the new policy, I was looking at taking annual and unpaid leave so I could support my wife and family; I can now take some of that leave as paid. It makes me proud to work for a company that takes such a strong stance and really makes me want to give back to a company willing to give to its people during such a special chapter in their lives.

Yvette Sraga, Head of Programs – Principal

Yvette and Liz have shared the primary carer role for their three kids – Poppy (8) and twins Ava and Jacob (4).

I’m very proud of Telstra for challenging the gender stereotypes relating to a primary carer. This is a great step towards ensuring equal opportunity in the workplace and acknowledges the crucial role that both parents play in early childhood development.

In our situation, if both our employers had paid parental leave with options on how to use it, it would have not only removed a lot of pressure, but also would have allowed us both to bond closely with our babies during those precious first 12 months equally.

Commitment to fairness

We want to be the best place to work for all. Today, that means making it fairer for all new parents.

Our new policy of offering 16 weeks of paid parental leave for all parents puts gender equity front and centre. We want our people to bring their whole selves to work, and fulfil their most important role at home.  

This change is initially available to our team members in Australia and we’re working to equalise our policies across our international locations.

Flexing big for World Flexible Working Day

Inspiration

Posted on May 22, 2019

3 min read

Today is World Flexible Working Day. It’s a day to challenge the mindset that work can only be done in the confines of a formal office setting. Flexible working is all about giving employees the choice to change their arrangements so that work can fit in seamlessly with their lives.

We introduced our ‘All Roles Flex’ approach in 2014. This approach recognises that flexibility will mean different things for different people. For example, it may mean working part-time, working outside normal 9-5 business hours or working from different locations.

We encourage our leaders to manage flexible working by checking in with their team members regularly to see what’s going on outside work. And we encourage our people to take a guilt-free attitude to flexibility, because it improves productivity, engagement and results for our customers. 

From Yeppoon to Yatala, Ballina to Caulfield – Telstra has flexible workers all over the country.

Meet three of our flexible working champions who have changed their working times and locations. These changes have been made possible through the support of our leaders, as well as a continuous focus on flexibility, technology and connectivity.

Cameron Young

Parenthood is a challenge and for first-time father, Cameron Young has been able to be there for his wife and son and still complete his work requirements

Parenthood is a challenge and for first-time father, Cameron Young has been able to be there for his wife and son and still complete his work requirements. 

“Working flexibly wasn’t something I truly valued until it became available to me,” Cameron said.

“I’m able to support my family with time at home, both planned and short-notice, without missing a beat or lowering my productivity.” 

Cameron works as a product marketing senior specialist in Telstra Enterprise. He sees the benefits are not exclusive to working from home. He says he can seamlessly co-locate with stakeholders both inter-floor, inter-office and internationally. All the time maintaining productivity while on the move with minimal disruption.

“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,” he said. 

Nicola Reeves

The Byron Bay hinterland is a dream holiday destination, and Nicola Reeves from the Telstra Sponsorship team has made it her permanent home

The Byron Bay hinterland is a dream holiday destination, and Nicola Reeves from the Telstra Sponsorship team has made it her permanent home. 

Moving from Wollongong 18 months ago, Nicola shifted north and took her role with her to the Ballina office.

Nicola believes she has a much more rounded perspective of the organisation since making the move.

“The thing I love about working flexibly is that you get to work with and meet a whole bunch of Telstra people that you wouldn’t otherwise,” she said. 

And her job remained the same given the technology Telstra offers. 

“The video conferencing is essential. So much about communication is non-verbal that if I couldn’t see people when I was talking to them it would be much more difficult.”

Moving north has given Nicola a more balanced life and she says it has given her perspective to reflect on things.

“I find that I am far calmer and less reactive as a result,” she said.

Mark Oberman

Cancelling his commute and getting back two hours of daylight was key for Mark Oberman in deciding to work more from home than the Brisbane office

Cancelling his commute and getting back two hours of daylight was key for Mark Oberman in deciding to work more from home than the Brisbane office. 

As part of the Telstra Global Partner Development team, with a specific focus on partner delivered professional and managed services, his role is not geographically focused.

“Being a self-confessed workaholic, my wife moderates my work hours directly,” laughed Mark. “I am more productive, as I am not distracted by activities around me.” 

IDAHOBIT Day 2019: we can all play a role as champions for diversity

Sustainability

Posted on May 16, 2019

4 min read

Since 2004, May 17 has stood as a day to celebrate LGBTI+ people around the world – to recognise their existence, to understand their struggle, and to commemorate their achievements in striving for equality.

The date stands in solemn recognition of May 17, 1990, when the World Health Organisation’s then-new International Statistical Classification of Diseases no longer listed homosexuality as a diagnosis for mental illness – and remembering the days before then when this was not the case.

Over the years since 1990, and even since 2004, the world has come a long way in embracing diversity and inclusion in many different ways small and large. In some ways, however, the progress has been slow. It has been barely 18 months since Australia’s Federal Parliament voted marriage equality into law, a crowning achievement for the LGBTI+ community. This achievement, however, also served to remind us that we still have a way to go to be free of inequality and prejudice.

Every year, the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT Day) is also an opportunity for allies of the LGBTI+ community to show their visible support, to declare “I proudly stand with you”, to speak up to reject homophobia, transphobia, interphobia, biphobia, and exclusive behaviour wherever we see it.

Part of that support comes from the understanding that advocating for inclusion is a constant process, and that everyone can play a role no matter how they identify.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace

We realise that in our modern age, this discrimination can and does occur in many forms – institutionally and informally, on the street, in the workplace or online.

We sincerely believe everyone who works at Telstra should be able to bring their whole selves to work – and we want that to be true of anyone throughout their career, no matter their place of work.

For our part, we as an organisation are striving to move past simply considering age, gender and ethnicity in our work to instead take a holistic view of diversity, as part of our newly implemented company-wide Diversity & Inclusion Strategy, while prioritising fairness for any under-represented or marginalised groups.

This new strategy sets in stone our intention to use the power of diverse thinking in inclusive teams to pursue innovation – in creating an inclusive environment at Telstra where everyone can thrive, we want to ensure that under-represented people and groups are heard, and that diverse thinking is valued.

To that end, we’ve set up four new employee representative groups to champion diversity across our business, each with a sponsor from our executive leadership team – we want to underline the importance of this representation at every level within our organisation, and for everyone to commit to creating inclusive teams. These new groups come in addition to our long-running SPECTRUM network representing LGBTI employees and their allies at Telstra, now in its 11th year, and our Brilliant Connected Women group pushing forward in gender diversity.

Diversity is a reality; inclusion is a choice. We’ve made the choice to be inclusive, to set an example for others in our professional and personal lives. As an organisation, we’re a foundation member of Pride in Diversity, the national not-for-profit group advancing LGBTI workplace inclusion and the publisher of the Australian Workplace Equality Index. Diversity and inclusion permeates our culture, and we have embedded it in our values and priorities.

We know it has taken a long time for LGBTI+ people across Australia and the world to start to be included. Days like IDAHOBIT Day are important for us to recognise that there is still a lot more to do to champion diversity and inclusion in all its forms. Today is a day for us to remember that we all have a role to play to drive the change necessary to ensure our society and workplaces are equal for all people.

Delivering enhanced mobile coverage for Central Coast commuters

Network

Posted on April 5, 2019

2 min read

We know increased mobile coverage is a priority for both consumers and businesses in regional Australia, and we know everyone loves to be able to use their phones on their daily commute.

For commuters along the New South Wales Central Coast, the challenging terrain means patchy mobile coverage in some sections leading to an inconsistent and frustrating experience for those wanting to respond to emails, stream videos or post on social media.

Telstra, together with the NSW and Federal Government, will soon commence an initiative to improve mobile network coverage on the Central Coast rail corridor.

Telstra is contributing more than $13 million as part of this joint initiative, which will see new mobile infrastructure built between Hornsby and Wyong – around 68 kilometres of train tracks – as well as deliver Wi-Fi at train stations along the rail corridor.

The landscape between Hornsby and Wyong stations is some of the most rugged along the NSW rail network, and the tunnels, mountains and national parks in the surrounding area make building mobile infrastructure in the area particularly complex.

This will soon change. Construction activities have commenced with mobile coverage improvements and Wi-Fi connectivity to be progressively delivered over the coming months.

Our investment in this initiative will see us delivering connectivity to over 90% of this rail corridor so Telstra customers can make the most of their commute.

We have already made significant network investments along numerous Australian rail links, extending our 4GX footprint as part of our ongoing commitment to regional Australia. We are proud to be working with the NSW Government to help bring this project to life.