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Workplaces of the future

03 September 2018


Workplaces of the future will have to work hard to attract the top talent and diversity they will need to be innovative and successful in a rapidly changing digital world. 


As part of Victoria’s Digital Innovation Festival (DIF), we asked some industry leaders for their take on how organisations can do this. Here’s what they had to say.




carsales Chief People Officer, Jo Allan


When carsales was founded in 1997, it disrupted the traditional model of classified print advertising. Since then, it has grown into an ASX 100 company with more than 1200 employees in Australia and overseas.


Q. How have you built your company culture?


We have strived to build a culture that balances the agility and fast pace of a startup with the positive things about being an ASX 100 organisation.


As a business built on innovation and disruption, we want these values to evolve from within. One of the ways we encourage innovation is through our hackathons. Twice a year we give our team creative freedom to spend three days generating concepts and working prototypes to benefit the company, our clients and all of the people using our sites.


To be innovative, we need diversity of thought which is why we have such a strong focus on diversity within our business.


This includes working towards gender diversity through many programs, such as unconscious bias training, gender pay gap analysis and creating innovative flexible leave options that cater to everyone regardless of what life stage they are at. We are proud to be a White Ribbon accredited workplace and a WGEA Employer of Choice for the last three years.


In 2018, our people have taken the lead to develop programs with a clear focus to encourage future generations to become interested in tech careers and to help with age diversity.


Q. What challenges do you face in developing an ideal workforce?


Our main challenge is ensuring that we have the agility to pivot as the needs of the future workforce change.


This means focusing on how we bring in the best and brightest talent now and in the future.


Looking to the future, we want to ignite interest in tech in the hearts and minds of people from primary school age through to high school, university and graduation. Some of the ways we do that include our kids coding camps, involvement with secondary schools, and by sponsoring women studying tech at university through scholarships. We also have a graduate program to invest in future talent and support the next generation of industry leaders.


With the rise of digital innovation and new generations entering the workforce, we know that people want a connected workforce, a personalised employee experience, the flexibility to customise their work and a focus on social impact.


And we know that to respond to the changing requirements we have to continue evolving our business to attract and retain future employees. This means increasing our agility, connectivity, diversity and adaptability, and creating flatter structures.


Q. What makes a great place to work?


A place where people are supported to do their best work in a fun, friendly and trusting environment, where they contribute to the organisation’s success.


There are so many aspects to a great workplace, such as great leadership, engagement, a personalised employee experience, a compelling vision for the future and much more.


Ultimately, it’s about people loving where they work and being inspired to do their best work.


Q. What flexibility and diversity benefits does your business offer?


We are committed to achieving gender diversity and we know that having a flexible workplace will support that commitment.


We also know that our people are at different stages in their lives, from just beginning their careers to looking to start a family and out to retirement. So while our people all have different motivations, they need flexibility to meet their work/life commitments. We want to be able to provide that environment to retain our talented people and continue to attract top talent.


Our goal is for everyone to feel comfortable to ask for ad hoc or temporary flexible working arrangements. We want people to know that we will always try our best to accommodate their work/life balance needs and even  just that 'waiting for a tradie’ drama.


To do this, we support and educate our leaders in how to manage flexibility and have a range of policies and programs to provide flexibility, including 16 weeks paid parental leave for primary caregivers, five days paid family crisis/domestic violence leave, early access to long service leave and school holiday programs to provide childcare for parents.


Q. What do you look for when hiring?


We look for someone who is talented at what they do, has a sense of humour, is flexible and is comfortable with agility.


We put a huge emphasis on finding talent, internally and externally. People want to work with other talented people so we want to attract great talent who want to continue to learn and evolve.


We know that if we bring in the right people with the right attitude and capacity to learn, they will flourish.




WORK180 Co-founder & CEO Valeria Ignatieva


WORK180 is a jobs board that pre-screens employers on paid parental leave, pay equity and flexible working arrangements to help women find jobs that will support their growth and development.

Q. What holds employers back when it comes to attracting skilled women?

Talented women in the technical space have scores of companies trying to hire them, so employers need to be competitive and really show what they have to offer in terms of paid parental leave, flexible working options and positive cultures with proper commitments to diversity.


There is also an issue with many employers wanting senior technical staff, and not being willing to invest in graduates or juniors. Job ads that require years of experience in particular technologies could be missing out on amazing talent. Talented engineers can pick up most tech stacks very quickly and thrive if employers give them time and investment.


Q. How do you see this changing in the next 10 years or so?


Tech companies are going to get bigger and bigger. Their teams need to grow at a fast pace - some doubling or tripling in just a year - and to be successful, they’ll need to attract the most skilled employees.


And to do this, they will need to provide environments that support work and life, and offer something more than just money.


More and more, we are seeing companies like Buildkite, which have chosen to demonstrate their support for all staff through initiatives such as 26 weeks of paid parental leave for primary carers, 13 weeks for secondary carers and amazingly, no minimum tenure to access this leave!


They also provide everyone with personal budgets for annual training, self care and green commuting.


Q. What’s the single most important thing women will want from their work in the next 10 years and why?


Candidates and employees will ditch organisations in a heartbeat if they’re not what they thought they were. Transparency is key.


All the research supports common sense on this - organisations need to be upfront from their job ads onwards about the reality of their diversity challenges and show how (and why) they’re changing.


Candidates will respect their honesty and new employees are much more likely to join with the right expectations and motivations.




To learn about work skills for the future, read our article about how workers can remain relevant over the next 10 to 20 years.


And to stay on top of the digital curve, consider joining the Digital Innovation Festival’s mailing listfor relevant events and information direct to your inbox.

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