Jodie King on the power of Vodafone’s ‘Free-Range Working’

Have you heard of Free-Range Working? For our recently-joined Partners, Vodafone New Zealand, it’s their bespoke flexible working style. Now part of their daily life after being refined over lockdown, it’s delivered promising outcomes both during, and now after, lockdowns.

Not only has it helped their teams boost engagement and productivity: Vodafone have also figured out a way of working wellbeing into the mix and devised impressive ways of monitoring this in real time.

Global WomenMember and Vodafone’s Chief People Officer Jodie King shares what’s kept their ‘Free-Range Working’ style strong with us — in reflection to her recent ‘Secrets to Working From Home’ interview in NZ Herald — and explores how it fits into a bigger equity-focused picture.

“{Flexibility is} allowing people to use their day in the way that works best for them”

“Having the flexibility and freedom to work from home has become such a priority for many of our people in the two years since the pandemic started. I wanted to share my reasoning on why ongoing flexibility is so important,” shares Jodie with Global Women, who elaborates that it’s “allowing people to use their day in the way that works best for them.

“I’ve also shared some tips on what employers can do to make sure their people are able to keep that sense of purpose, meaning and fulfilment they get from work,” shares Julie about her interview and the hybrid working style. “This is so we can make sure everyone feels cared for and connected while working from outside of the office environment.”

So, what does Vodafone’s ‘Free-Range Working’ look like?

Three key factors are cited by Jodie to make for a great hybrid working nurturing, engagement and technology — topped off with flexibility.

Aside from options to work from home and in the office, additional elements have been added into the free-range working mix:

  • Bookending email times:

    A ban on emails before 6am and after 10pm, to reduce people from feeling obliged to respond then and there.

  • Meeting times best practise:

    Avoiding meetings between 12 and 1 to ensure lunch breaks, as well as trying not to have meetings after 2pm on Fridays for personal work admin catch-up time.

  • Vodafone A Friend:

    A support network of in-company volunteers who look after those struggling or need an extra helping hand.

“So far, the feedback indicates this has worked incredibly well for our people, and I’m excited about the direction we are going as an organisation.”

We know how flexibility, in this day and age, promotes more equitable outcomes for working women. This side of free range working has been key for Julie. “I’m conscious that this time has been particularly challenging for our women and primary caregivers returning from parental leave. Alongside our phased return and parental leave payment top-ups, we’ve placed additional support in the form of ‘Parental Leaver Returners workshops’ around these employees. So far, the feedback indicates this has worked incredibly well for our people, and I’m excited about the direction we are going as an organisation.”

“In particular this works well for caregivers, many of whom are women who take on additional responsibilities in the home and all of our working parents who have needed to take care of children at home during work hours, or are sorting school/daycare pick-ups, drop offs and after school activities.”

To hear more about how these changes positively impacted the team and they’ve achieved greater staff sentiment of being supported compared to industry averages — lockdown and beyond — read the full article on NZ Herald. Jodie shares inspiring updates as to how 88% of respondents responded positively when asked whether they felt “well supported” in unsettling times and expands on the particular values that underpin this success.

“What we’re talking about is the future of work – bringing the power of technology and humanity together.”

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