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Wotton + Kearney has been awarded a “Diversity Initiative of the Year” Excellence Award as part of the Australasian Law Awards 2021. The award recognises the firm’s W+K FLEX initiative which offers flexibility for all staff, for any reason.

W+K FLEX was created by rethinking the role of the office in a post-COVID world with the firm’s Chief Executive Partner David Kearney asking all staff the question: “Having experienced flexible working, and putting COVID and public transport concerns to one side, what is your ideal future mix of remote and office working to service your clients, collaborate with your team and integrate your work and personal commitments?”

The firm’s People + Culture team then spent 1:1 time with staff to hear responses, discovering that everyone expected ongoing autonomy and flexibility to do their job in the post pandemic era. They then leveraged tools and infrastructure as part of W+K’s ‘People First’ culture to develop W+K FLEX. The initiative is supported by four key elements: the firm’s vision and guiding principles; ongoing value of office attendance; leadership support; and continuous feedback.

Since implementing W+K FLEX, key learnings discovered by the firm include that:

  • office presence doesn’t necessarily mean productivity, and flexibility doesn’t mean working less – the firm has grown by 20% in the FY21 year to date
  • remote client meetings are still productive and don’t compromise quality of work
  • if you empower people and trust them, they can be as (if not more) productive out of the office as they are in it
  • an empowered workforce translates into greater employee loyalty, wellbeing and engagement
  • allowing everyone to choose how they integrate work and personal responsibilities builds inclusion
  • a flexible workplace reduces the need for additional office space
  • a flexible employee base enables a scalable workforce across geographic regions, boosting access to diverse talent, and
  • universal flexibility aligns more closely with clients, most of whom were proponents of flexibility well before COVID.

The notion that “work is a thing you do, not a place you go” is a central tenet of the future of work and the philosophy behind W+K FLEX, which now enables universal access to flexibility for all W+K staff in the firm’s hybrid virtual workplace.

The full Australasian Law Awards 2021 winners will be announced 15-17 June.

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