Flex, don’t break: making flexible working sustainable

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October 21, 2021
United Kingdom

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Having enjoyed the flexibilities and efficiencies of remote working, civil servants are in no hurry to return to the office full-time: research by the Cabinet Office’s Government Property Agency has found that most want to work from home 2-3 days a week in future. To attract and retain talented and highly-skilled staff, civil service bodies are going to have to retain a flexible working offer.

But over the long term, operating a flexible workforce presents a unique set of challenges. Collaboration, teamworking and networking, for example, require careful handling in a distributed team. Without an experienced colleague sitting next to them, junior staff often learn more slowly. Some HR processes may function less effectively online, posing a threat in fields such as diversity and equality. And people can become isolated, posing a threat to staff engagement and mental health.

Traditional approaches to line management and staff engagement, developed in an era of office-based working, can overlook some of these risks. So civil service bodies and line managers need new ways to gather information on people’s experiences, goals, opinions and fears – informing work both to provide tailored support for individuals, and to identify and plug gaps in organisations’ policies and processes. At this Workday webinar, an expert panel explored how organisations can gather up-to-date, accurate data on staff perceptions, using that data to adapt working practices and support systems for an era of flexible working.


Helen Mc Mullan, Head of Talent Management & Development, NHS Professionals

A Human Resources professional with over 20 years working in generalist HR roles within the private sector. Helen joined NHSP, a company wholly owned by the Department of Health & Social Care, in May 2008 and has held multiple roles in various departments across the business, finally ending up in the world of Learning & Development.  Helen’s particular passion is around developing staff and watching them achieve their potential, along with supporting their mental health through engagement and wellbeing programmes.

Deborah Kuness, Senior Psychologist, Peakon (a Workday company), United Kingdom

Debs is a Senior Business Psychologist at Peakon, a Workday company, and has worked in the field of organisational psychology for the last 10 years. As an experienced consultant, facilitator and executive coach, Debs has deep expertise across the employee experience lifecycle, and has used this to support organisations across sectors and geographies. This includes the application of psychological theory and best practice to Employee Engagement, individual, team and organisational development, organisational culture and change. Previously, Debs worked in the field of clinical and forensic psychology, and holds a Masters degree in Forensic Psychology.

Patrick Cournoyer, Chief Evangelist, Peakon (a Workday company), USA

When implementing Peakon at the San Francisco technology company where he was previously Vice President of People, Patrick was so impressed with both the product and the team that he moved halfway around the world to join Peakon in 2016.

As Chief Evangelist, Patrick speaks with people around the world about the transformative power of Peakon. His passion is to inspire thought and action within the global HR community.

Webinar chair: Siobhan Benita, former UK senior civil servant

Siobhan Benita was a senior civil servant with over 15 years’ Whitehall experience. She worked in many of the major delivery departments, including Transport, Environment, Health and Local Government. She also had senior roles at the heart of Government in the Cabinet Office and HM Treasury, including supporting the then Cabinet Secretary, Lord O’Donnell to lead work on Civil Service reform and strategy. Siobhan left the Civil Service to run as an independent candidate in the Mayor of London election. She subsequently joined her alma mater, Warwick University as Chief Strategy Officer of Warwick in London and Co-Director of the Warwick Policy Lab.