Council wins national award for flexible working

Published on 22 February 2022

Kaikohe offices, Far North District Council

A hybrid working model that has enabled the Council to continue delivering key services to ratepayers during COVID-19 restrictions has been named the country’s Best Workplace Flexibility Program at the annual HRD Awards NZ.

The Council’s Creating and Enabling Great Workplaces Project Team collected the highest number of points in the workplace flexibility category, nudging out runners-up AIA New Zealand and McDonald's Restaurants (NZ) to collect the top award.

Council Chief Executive, Shaun Clarke, says he’s hugely proud of the win, and the success of the Council’s hybrid operating model.

He says the flexible approach to work evolved from the organisation’s response to the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. This saw most Council staff quickly transition to working from home and ensured uninterrupted delivery of most Council services.

“Rather than rush back to the office at the end of the lockdown, we opted to learn from the experience. We formed the Creating and Enabling Great Workplaces Project Team to expand the idea of flexible working for resilience in business continuity and developed our hybrid working model in partnership with staff.”

Around 85 per cent of Council staff have now voluntarily adopted hybrid working – a system where they mostly work from home, connecting with colleagues and customers via online meeting applications such as Teams and Zoom. They can also book desks or collaboration spaces in the office as required. Remaining staff either have customer facing roles or have chosen to continue working from the office.

“Giving staff the option of mainly working from home has allowed us to adapt quickly to new pandemic restrictions with minimum disruption to business and service delivery. Just as importantly, the model has boosted productivity, and reduced operating costs. With fewer staff commuting, we have also reduced our carbon footprint.”  

Mr Clarke says last week’s win demonstrates that the Council is not only a leader within local government, but also within the wider business community.

The HRD Awards NZ is an independent awards programme delivered by industry news provider, Human Resources Director. The Best Workplace Flexibility Program category recognises excellence and innovation in workplace flexibility programmes and initiatives. Judging criteria focuses on consultation, strategy, implementation, and results.

The Council’s hybrid working model is in the running for two more awards this year. It is a finalist in the New Zealand HRNZ Awards run by the Human Resources Institute. Winners are due to be announced on 12 May. It is also shortlisted in the prestigious Australian Financial Review Best Places to Work List. This recognises Australia and New Zealand-based companies pioneering best-practices in wellbeing, flexibility, and equality. Winners of that award will be announced on 26 April 2022.



Last updated 22 February 2022