With over half of the New Zealand workforce either currently working flexibly or wanting to in the future, leadership in a flexible environment is critical to managing the workforce of the future.

Champions speak on the importance of leading from the top

Why leadership is key

Often, flexibility at work begins with a request from an employee. Recognising the benefits of flexibility for business, a more effective route is to lead by modelling flexible work behaviours. Seeing the CEO and senior leadership team taking advantage of working outside of the traditional eight-to-five helps to establish flexibility as the norm.

Get systems right first

Treat flexibility like any other aspect of business: measure it, set targets, and allocate accountabilities. Technology that allows people to connect remotely is a critical aspect of successful flexible workplaces.

Equipping managers to lead teams that they don’t necessarily see every day means focusing on outcomes rather than hours logged. Trust and communication are key to managing flexible teams, and fostering a sense of team is vital.

For employees, it’s important that expectations are set early on to avoid misunderstandings and potential misuse of flexible work arrangements. Set clear performance measures and have regular check-ins to ensure that performance issues are not confused with flexibility issues.


"Flexible working is a great example of the trust you have to have in your staff. We need to trust our staff that working at home means genuinely working at home and not another day at the beach. Being flexible means trusting that the outputs change, regardless of how staff are working or where they are working from."

Mark Averill, Champion and CEO PwC

Leadership checklist

  • Communicate constantly; ask for feedback.
  • Build a culture of trust and mutual respect.
  • Establish clear expectations and responsibilities.
  • Acknowledge that change is difficult.
  • Empower your team by changing from defining how people work to focus on the what, to enable people to come up with their own solutions.
  • Ensure that flexible work arrangements meet the needs of the customer, business and the individual.
  • Use technology to your advantage. 

"Creating a culture of trust is essential. By focusing on outcomes rather than hours logged or time at the desk you empower people to work in ways that produce the best results. We hire smart people and we trust in their ability to get the job done; micro-managing the time or place they work is often counter-productive."

Peter Vial, Champion and Managing Director, CAANZ