Communication critical for #FlexWorkFullLife

Outcomes not hours

Flexibility means tracking outcomes not hours – Flexible CEO Jack Walden

How flexible are you? Today is national Flexible Working Day and we’re proud to be working with the team at Career Inside Track to help facilitate this important national conversation. Share your experiences of working flexible with #FlexWorkFullLife on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Communication is a key ingredient in supporting flexible working practices and the need to improve communication among team members is key to achieving greater flexibility and a fuller life, according to results from a national survey into flexible working practices released today for ‘Flexible Working Day’.

The survey reveals that Australian workplaces and employees are still relatively inflexible with flexible working arrangements, which may be contributing to ‘flexism’ and preventing businesses from realising their full potential.

While more than 80 percent of respondents embraced some form of flexibility in their jobs, less than 40 per cent had formal flexible work practices in place, leaving room for employers and employees to miss out on the benefits of true flexible working and creating an environment for ‘flexism’ to thrive.

The report, prepared by Career Inside Track, aims to support a conversation among Australian employees and employers from private, government and non-profit sectors as part of the first-ever national Flexible Working Day, with participants taking the opportunity to assess their FlexWork maturity level, discuss the benefits of flexible work practices and share their own stories of flexibility.


The report also highlights the importance of celebrating employees working flexibly to demonstrate the organisation’s commitment to flexible working, further highlighting the important role for communicators in supporting flexible workplaces.

Ambassadors for Flexible Working Day, including journalists Tracey Spicer and Angela Priestley, sporting champions Kim Brennan and Tom Faulkner, and chief executives and senior leaders from Diversity Council of Australia, GM Holden, Medibank, FlexCareers and other leading companies, are showing their support through events within their own organisations, sharing personal stories and photos on social media, and speaking with colleagues about how to make flexible working arrangements work for them.

Flexible Working Day is proudly supported by FlexCareers, The Parenthood and Women’s Agenda.

Tips from our #CommsCorner


6004674496_c24d5a26a3_oWe regularly ask communicators what they wish they had known before starting out in their communications careers and this week we thought we’d share a collection of their responses.

Here are six leading female communicators and the lessons they’ve discovered along the track of professional communications.

Don’t stress the little things – Vanessa O’Hanlon

To not stress about the little things.  Take on everything you are offered – don’t let fear stand in the way.  However you are feeling – everyone else feels the same, we are all human.

Just do it – Lauren Ayton

Just do it! I was so nervous before starting with science communication events; as a scientist, you are so used to specialising in specific areas, and it can be nerve-wracking to talk about your work without the jargon. A few years down the track, and I count science communication as one of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of my job; I’m glad I just gave it a shot!

Learn from others – Andrea Davies

Learn from other people within the industry. Find a mentor who is willing to share their experiences with you. Join an industry body like the PRIA or IABC. Both connect you to other people in the industry that you can learn from. LinkedIn is also a great tool for gaining industry insights and connecting with other communicators from across the world. Also, recognise your gaps and undertake learning and development courses to improve your understanding of the world.

Always ask – Kathryn Crawford

Always ask the question you’re worried makes you look stoopid. I’ve ended up looking far sillier than I needed to by being too embarrassed to ask the question in the first place.

Remember to communicate with staff – Diane Squires

I really underestimated the importance of internal communications in the overall communications mix. Organisations spend so much time and energy on media and stakeholder communications, but then fail to communicate with their own staff. Staff are at the forefront of customer engagement, if they don’t know what is going on, how can they support your messaging.

Numbers matter – Amisha Mehta

Numbers matter and go hand-in-hand with words to create meaning—data analysis and accounting are your friends. Do not avoid them.

Mamamia, what a mess!


RoxanegaybookFeminism and fat-shaming aside, it might be time for Mamamia to brush up on their interviewing etiquette.

“Now, I would normally never breach the confidence of what goes on behind the scenes of organising an interview, but in this case…”

Well, if you wouldn’t normally, then don’t do it now!

And with those immortal words, Mia Freedman, editor-in-chief and founder of fem-lifestyle website Mamamia, went on to publicly detail the logistics for then infamous podcast interview. The subject was Roxanne Gay, best-selling feminist author of Hunger and Bad Feminist.  Freedman described these details in a manner that upset the plus-size author and which was, in the opinion of many, a gross violation of her privacy. The since deleted description on the podcast they were recording had such choice ditty’s as “Will she fit in the office lift” and “None of this is disclosed with a mean spirit”. Here’s a free tip: If you need to explain that what you’re writing is not mean-spirited, then perhaps you ought to re-think your subject.

In response to the furore, Freedman claimed that she had confused the authors’ own revelations of the personal details of her life with open-permission to reveal further private details. That by opening up about her struggles with fat-shaming and self-loathing, Ms Gay was giving permission to others to say whatever they deemed appropriate about it and her. What rankled most about the comments was the discourtesy and lack of respect shown towards the author. In feminist parlance, it reduced a complex and accomplished individual to a one-dimensional fat girl with special needs.

Fat-shaming, bitchiness and feminism aside, this is just, simply put, an unprofessional way for a media organisation to treat their client/guest. Perhaps Mia Freedman was attempting to hype up the interview by detailing all the extra-ordinary planning that went into it. The unusual and specific request for accommodating a plus-sized guest (requests, it might be added, that author refutes making). Can you imagine if she’d used this tactic with a wheel-chair bound guest? What’s more, as an experienced editor, Freedman should have been aware that her words would come off as rude and insensitive. Instead, she displayed a complete inability to mitigate all the possible interpretations of her comments. An unforgivable sin for the head of a fairly major media website.

On a fundamental level, is the role of a responsible communications professional not to place oneself in the mind of another? To understand them and their point-of-view more clearly, so that in turn they may convey that mind to the world at large. It would seem that an integral part of that is to not reduce your subject to a stereotype.

Jack and the c word crew

And here’s the tweet that makes us totally respect Roxane! Because she totally could have let him on that door!

Vanessa O’Hanlon in the #CommsCorner


VANESSA O'HANLON_0254.jpgThis week, we welcome Channel Nine newsreader Vanessa O’Hanlon into the #CommsCorner. After being part of the launch of ABC News Breakfast, Vanessa is now part of the team bringing a new regional news service to NSW for Channel Nine.

What’s you elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

Adaptable and motivated, I started in the media because of my passion for music and worked my way from reporting in a helicopter to news-reading. Adventurous and private.  But socially outgoing with friends and family.

Tell us about a typical day working in the media.

It varies depending on events and publicity commitments but typically it’s about staying across what’s happening.  Mornings are usually spent reading papers and online stories.  Afternoons pre-reading, editing stories, recording (local stories) and putting together the live bulletin that airs at 6pm.

When did you first know you wanted to be a journalist?

It came to me in a round about way.  At school I always had an interest in politics and current affairs and was on the SRC and School Council but I also fell in love with music.  I enjoyed interviewing bands and artists.   Working in a newsroom on ABC News Breakfast I knew I wanted to be more involved in the news side of presenting, I love the fast pace and how news evolves.

Which journalist from around the world do you most admire?

Growing up I loved Jana Wendt – who didn’t.  She was sassy and classy.

I have been very fortunate to work with some great talent.  To watch Virginia Trioli in action certainly inspired me but I am even more blessed to call her a friend.

What communication tools can’t you live without?

The internet – what a game changer.

Last year I would have said sites such as Bureau of Meterology, Accuweather and BBC weather.

Social media sites such as Twitter – although you need to weed out fake news. If there is a journalist you trust, having them on the scene of an event is the best source of keeping up to date.

What are the biggest challenges you face? And what are the biggest opportunities?

I guess it’s the same for everyone – it’s becoming complacent.  The world of technology is changing at such a rapid pace and it’s hard to keep up with what is relevant.

Right now I would have to say my biggest opportunity is working with Channel 9.  I started up NSW Regional News back in February so it has been a case of head down and work hard.

Tell us about the news coverage you are most proudest of?

This is a double edged sword – I am proud of being part of Australia’s first rolling free to air news channel (I was there for the start of News 24). It was a game changer to how we now see and receive news, but at the same time I wonder what it is doing to us psychologically especially with the growing rate of terrorism and the shift we have seen in politics.  Are we giving some people and groups too much coverage?  Or are we becoming more knowledgeable and better informed.

But right now, my proudest moment is broadcasting local stories back into regional areas.  There are a lot of towns that feel isolated and are struggling economically and need to feel a stronger connection to the rest of the country.

What’s been the biggest change to the newsroom since you began your career?

Where do we begin?  News has evolved in so many ways.  You used to have a daily paper and a nightly news service.  Journalists had the luxury of working on a story and setting the news agenda.  It was recorded and edited, now the focus is on ‘here and now’ usually in the form of live crosses.

Technology has changed that, like most industries the key to surviving is multi-skilling.  A journalist needs to write, edit and know how to gather stories and perform across all platforms from online, radio to television.

If you had to cut, create or change something from your reporting toolkit, what would it be?

My career path has been a little different than others but if I had my time again I would have liked to have honed my skills around reporting and packaging because if time permitted I would love to make documentaries.

What book/blog/news source do you think every communicator should read?

There are so many options to choose from but it must be a source that is trustworthy and portrays a standard of accuracy and impartiality.  My go to is Twitter to begin with, you’ll find an eclectic range of articles.

What tips do you wish you known before starting out in journalism?

To not stress about the little things.  Take on everything you are offered – don’t let fear stand in the way.  However you are feeling – everyone else feels the same, we are all human.

Finish this sentence: Communication is …. The key to expressing yourself to someone else.

Meme what you say: Covfefe


The latest meme is a c-word: Covfefe.

If you’ve logged onto your social networks in the last few hours, you will no doubt have seen the millions of memes inspired by Donald Trump’s new c word: Covfefe.

In case you haven’t, here are 11 memes inspired by the President’s new c-word.

Just like genes, memes can thrive or dive in the meme pool. A ‘meme’ is a virally-transmitted cultural symbol or social idea. They can appear spontaneously and spread rapidly from one medium to another and include captions, catch phrases and catch cries.

While you’re enjoying the memes, here are some of the best from 2017 so far.

Cheers, Jack and the c word crew


Binge on TV for some business lessons


grace-frankie-jane-fonda-lily-tomlin-784414From septuagenarians navigating the startup world to marketing lessons from the pope, television is currently providing a range of lessons in marketing, communications and business.

Not that we needed an excuse to binge on quality television, we are grateful however to have an excuse to blog about it!

Here are some shows for you to binge for some inspiration:

Grace and Frankie, Netflix

In the latest season of Grace and Frankie, the frenemies turned housemates and best friends embark on a startup adventure: launching a sex toy for the over 70s. The characters, played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, spend the season meeting with investors at incubators, fighting potential takeovers, conducting focus groups, and watching the counter tick over for their first sale. It’s comedy with a few commercial lessons thrown in for good measure.

The Young Pope, SBS on Demand

young_pope_4Jude Law’s pope brings mystery to the Vatican brand. In the opening episode he shares his insight into marketing: “We all want to see that which is hidden, we all want to stare the forbidden in the face.” With a seductive soundtrack, brilliant cast and equally good writing, the remainder of the season continues to deliver pearls of wisdom from the Young Pope.

Girl Boss, Netflix

girlbossInspired by Sophia Amoruso’s best-selling book, this series follows the rise of Amoruso’s multi-million dollar fashion empire, Nasty Gal. From the initial idea to launch day, we experience the highs and lows of startups. And the best part, the way the show captures the intensity of online chat forums.

House of Cards, Netflix

While the show provides lots of inspiration itself – perhaps on what not to do – the promotion of the show is where House of Cards truly delivers. This week, House of Cards made headlines around the world when they shared behind the scenes photos taken by a real-life Whitehouse photographer; blurring the line between reality and fiction.

Happy binging!

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew.


Expert culture has killed the innovator in workplaces


We thought this article on the demise of innovation in the workplace was worth sharing. Thanks to The Conversation and Joshua Krook for the great insights.

Joshua Krook, University of Adelaide

Over the last few decades, the Western world has had an increasingly specialised workforce, with workers trained in narrow skills, for increasingly narrow positions. However, the more narrow our jobs have become, the less capable we have become in inventing new technologies, products and ideas. The Conversation

Innovative ideas tend to come, not from specialised experts, but from generalists. But in today’s economy, education is focused almost entirely on vocational, specialist skills, creating a dampening effect on innovative thought and creativity.

The more specialised our workforce becomes, the less capable we are of seeing how our industry relates to other industries. We also become less capable of inventing something to fit the knowledge gap between one industry and the next.

Specialisation of the workforce has been driven by a system called “academic inflation”. Where certain jobs used to require only a high school certificate, they now require a bachelors degree, a masters degree or a PhD. Employers have begun demanding greater and greater qualifications even for the most junior of positions.

As educational requirements have increased, jobseekers have responded by gaining more degrees and spending more time and money on education. The aim has been to specialise early, and become an expert in a field.

This culture of expertise has had an increasingly negative effect on the inventive capacity of our economy.

Over the last century, there has been a decrease in the rate of patenting of new technologies, correlating with an increase in the number of experts working in-house on innovation teams. The more people specialise to gain access to these innovation teams, the less creative they become once they get there. The more private companies are engaged in hiring expert inventors, the less inventions are produced.

Along with an overall decline in patenting, there has also been a decline in the number of young people producing inventions. If inventors require PhDs and certifications to enter into companies, then society loses out on their inventive capacity in their early twenties and thirties, adding an extra layer to an existing problem.

An analysis of Nobel Prize winners shows that the average age of winners has increased by five or six years per century. The data indicates that PhDs and other qualifications have had a major impact on the age at which someone is at their most inventive.

Where Einstein was most productive in his twenties, over the last century only 7% of prize recipients were in their twenties. A potential “lost age” of inventions is now evident in the data – where younger employees do not have access to grants, funding or jobs.

A final concern of a specialised workforce is the decrease in “breakthrough” inventions. Over the last century, as inventors have become in-house experts, they have increasingly turned away from inventing something new, and are increasingly recombining old technologies instead. This is leading to a decline in the number of technologies that revolutionalize human society.

To put it simply, we are creating iPhones instead of light bulbs. Where the iPhone simply recombines existing tools to create something new, the lightbulb was revolutionary in creating several new industries.

New research also suggests the usefulness of having generalists on innovation teams, rather than specialised experts. Breakthroughs arise when someone can combine many ideas together.

The key to being one of these generalists is to think broadly (not deeply) about a variety of topics, rather than a single topic. As Bertrand Russel once wrote:

There is something lost, when many authors co-operate. If there is any unity to be gained in a particular idea, there is a necessity to synthesise all the relevant information “in a single mind”.

The solution to our lost innovative capacity might therefore be relatively simple.

Instead of focusing on hiring specialists or experts in a particular field, we should hire generalists of a broad mind, capable of thinking outside the box. Hiring independent innovators outside of institutional structures might be one way of protecting them from the pressures of specialisation.

Funding and grants should also be less tied to how much someone has specialised, and more to how inventive or creative they actually are. Our system should move more towards this kind of merit-based ideal, rather than focusing on expertise and certification.

Beyond this, businesses can consider challenging staff with lateral thinking. The key is to push staff beyond their narrow jobs and into new fields and endeavours that challenge them to think in new ways. Younger workers in particular should play a greater role in contributing to the ideas, products and inventions of a company, rather than being excluded until they have gained the relevant degrees or qualifications.

The benefits of a specialised workforce need to be reconsidered in the light of this new evidence on reduced inventive capacity. If our economy is to be innovative, creative and diverse in thought, then so too must our education, our workforce and our jobs. If we are to have breakthrough technologies, we need to create breakthrough thinkers with the capacity to understand a variety of fields.

Joshua Krook, Doctoral Candidate in Law, University of Adelaide

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.