EP#93: The flexible public sector workplace

Flexible work has become a staple in modern workplaces, and the public sector is no exception. With an increasing demand for work flexibility, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a shift towards more adaptable working environments.

On this episode, we are joined by Clare Kelliher, professor of work and organisation at Cranfield School of Management, Dr Fiona Buick, senior lecturer at UNSW Canberra, and Adam Fennessy PSM, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. In conversation with guest host Patrick Hetherington, COO of the Department of Social Services, they share their insights on the evolution of flexible work and how to make the most of it. The panel highlights the importance of understanding employee needs, rethinking job design, and the need for leaders to model the behaviours they wish to promote within their organisations.

Discussed in this episode:

  • The definition and scope of flexible work in the public sector
  • Strategies for managing and implementing flexible work effectively
  • The role of leadership in promoting and modeling flexible work cultures
  • The balance between employee well-being and organisational needs in the context of flexible work arrangements.


Professor Clare Kelliher FAcSS FHEA FRSA AcFCIPD 

Clare is professor of work and organisation at Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, UK. Her research examines the organisation of work and the management of the employment relationship. In particular, she has focused on the implementation and outcomes from flexible working arrangements.Her recent research, funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, examined how the use of the government’s ‘flexible furlough scheme’ during the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged employers to experiment with part-time working, often challenging their assumptions about its feasibility and making them more amenable to offering part-time working in the future.

Dr Fiona Buick

Fiona Buick is a senior lecturer at UNSW, Canberra. Her research identifies key people management challenges within public sector organisations and how to address them. She focuses on how to improve human resource practices and processes to build capacity and achieve desired outcomes.

Specific areas of focus so far have been organisational culture, performance management, middle manager capability development, machinery of government changes, employee well-being, and hybrid working.

Adam Fennessy PSM 

Adam Fennessy PSM is Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

He was the dean and CEO of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG).

Adam has over 25 years of public sector experience at state and federal levels, most recently as the Victorian Public Sector Commissioner. He has served as the Secretary of the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, and the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries. Adam has worked in the private sector as a partner with global advisory firm Ernst & Young.