By Panthea Vatandoost, PACT
Balancing Act and PACT held the first Level UP! National Roundtable on January 13th. Leading off a four-part series, this gathering featured guest companies Fringe Toronto, Neptune Theatre, Outside the March, and Roseneath Theatre, all of which are piloting some form of flexible working model this year.
What is Level UP!’s Flexible Working Models Strategy?
Companies are piloting alternative models for production schedules and administrative positions and developing resources and templates that can be shared with the broader sector. Examples of Flex Work models could include:
In (and out of) the Office: Exploring Job Sharing, Remote Working, Compressed Hours, Flexi-Time
In Process and Production: Moving away from the 6-day rehearsal week, alternative production schedules
During the event, each of the guest companies presented how they are implementing guidelines from Level UP! in their practices to best support employees and contract workers. This included exploration of sharing workloads, malleable work days and scheduling to accommodate parents and caregivers, preparing for sick days, and working to eradicate the 10/12 working model. As the companies shared their successes and challenges, guest panelists addressed concerns in real time and provided alternative approaches and relevant tools to address structural challenges to this new working model.
One of the themes discussed in depth was making sure that no staff member or contract worker is the sole knowledge holder and effectively irreplaceable, reducing the pressure to work through illness or attending to caregiving responsibilities. This presents a great opportunity for mentorship and apprenticeship within the organization.
Another subject discussed was making a financial case to the Board of Directors to encourage them to come onboard these new practices. Some organizations reported that, when comparing added over-time fees to shorter work days over a longer schedule and eradicating 10/12 tech weeks, they did not see a major financial strain on budgets. In fact, between improved quality of life and appropriate rest times, it was found that mistakes were reduced and therefore time and resources spent on fixing these mistakes were reduced as well.
Flexible Working Models prioritize quality of life, physical and mental health, and workplace safety. This is an investment into the future of the theatre sector, making it more inclusive of parents and caregivers and a more viable option for all.
The next Level UP! National Roundtable, focusing on Childcare Solutions, is scheduled for February 24th, 2022. It will feature companies piloting childcare strategies: Harbourfront Centre, Lunchbox Theatre, Open Pit Theatre, Quote Unquote Collective, and Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists (CADA) – East. Register for free here.