Work life balance. It’s the 21st century’s buzz phrase, as companies vie for the attention of Australians juggling various commitments and responsibilities.

Turns out as a nation, we like to have choice. We like flexible working arrangements, whether this be the hours or days we work, split shifts or job sharing, or remote work locations – because after all, the internet makes it possible to work from nearly anywhere.

Companies have embraced flexibility because it works. In fact, according to Bankwest’s 2017 Future of Business Leadership Report, 45% of small and medium business leaders motivate staff by offering flexible work hours.

But flexible work practices also make sense from a bottom line point of view. Business opportunities can be won or lost instantly, and having a team that is given the freedom to work in the way that best suits them often increases commitment, meaning businesses can be more responsive. Having a team that works remotely, or as contractors, is also a great way to save money in desk space or overhead costs – allowing the business to invest in areas that will drive business growth.

Most commonly, those who rely on the ability to work flexibly are mothers. Recent gender workplace statistics[1] show the participation rate for women is 59.1% and account for 71.6% of part-time employees, largely those managing work and family responsibilities.

Interestingly, being employed full time, or self-employed, prior to children drastically influences a woman’s tendency to re-enter the workforce. 84% of self-employed mothers and 76% of fulltime employees will return highly than a mere 13% returning who weren’t employed during pregnancy.