COVID has transformed the way workplaces perceive ‘flexible working’ – that was one of the key themes discussed during a recent panel discussion held at the University of Technology Sydney as part of Vivid Sydney 2022.   

For 23 nights from Friday 27 May to Saturday 18 June, Vivid Sydney transformed the CBD into a fusion of creativity, innovation and technology – activating 12 locations across the city and featuring the longest ever continuous 'Light Walk' at 8km.

In addition to immersive light installations and a music program with more than 150 performances, Vivid Sydney also showcased the opinions of some of the world’s leading creative thinkers through its Ideas Program. 

As part of CommBank Career’s sponsorship of Vivid Sydney 2022, the bank’s Head of Community Engagement, Malini Raj, hosted one of the many panel discussions that made up this year’s Vivid Ideas Exchange in the Great Hall at the University of Technology Sydney.

Ms Raj was joined on the panel by Australian author and activist Bri Lee, and academic Dr Emma Jane, who looked at how gender, culture, privilege, neurodiversity, emerging technology and innovation is shaping the future of work.

The trio of panellists also discussed how COVID had caused organisations to re-evaluate some of the more traditional ‘work perceptions’, including the notion that working from home negatively impacts productivity.

“At CommBank, our people are embracing flexibility and using it to balance their personal and professional commitments,” Ms Raj said during the panel discussion.  

“In the past, working from home was often viewed as threatening productivity or questioning an employee’s commitment, but statistics show this is not the case. And, while there have been suggestions that remote working could contribute to feelings of isolation, in many cases remote working has had a positive impact on the well-being of staff and made us think about the future of work.”

Ms Raj went onto ask the panellists for their thoughts on the one tangible change workplaces could employ today to create an environment that is “flexible, fun, empathetic and inclusive”.

Both Bri Lee and Dr Emma Jane agreed it was important for workplaces to ensure they aren’t leaning into gender stereotypes – like the notion that policies around access to early childhood education and care only benefit mothers – and instead ensured all employees feel included and respected.

Ms Raj highlighted some of the things CommBank has done and is doing to help create a better workplace for the future, including removing unconscious bias from job ads and recruitment, having clear diversity in leadership goals, and introducing new forms of leave – such as life leave, gender affirmation, pandemic, fostering, and surrogacy leave.

Find out more about Gender Equality at CommBank here.

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