WORKING mothers who fear that taking up flexible work arrangements would set them back in their career need only look at UBS's legal counsel, Jun Wong, for inspiration.

The single parent of an eight-year-old has been on various forms of flexible work arrangement over the past six years, during which she has been promoted twice.

The managing director, legal and compliance, at UBS credited the successful arrangement to the bank's culture and management.

"At UBS, the career progression and development are agnostic as to how much time you spend in the office. It's a question of how you achieve the objectives and manage your own time," she said yesterday at a panel discussion organised by Financial Women's Association of Singapore and FlexiWerkz, an online resource for those on flexible work arrangements.

Minister of State for Manpower and Health Amy Khor, the guest of honour at the event, asked why it was that flexible work arrangements were still not the norm despite the available technology. "It's not difficult to work offsite, but why is it that many companies still resist this?"

Employees in some companies that offer flexible work arrangements are hesitant in taking them up because they feel that they have to do a full-time job on part-time pay, or they have to work doubly hard to prove themselves, noted Dr Khor, adding that the Ministry of Manpower was looking into these issues.

Beyond offering flexi-work arrangements, there must also be a work-life culture where bosses' expectations and human resource (HR) assessment policies are made clear so as to give employees the confidence to take them up, she said.

In recent months, the government has called on employers to offer more flexible work arrangements to help workers better juggle their jobs with parenthood, and to encourage employees who would have stopped working altogether to stay in the workforce.

Another panellist, Theresa Copping, HR director for Aviva's higher growth markets, noted that flexible work arrangements are not just the domain of working mothers since younger employees too seek a better quality of life, and more people are having to care for their aged parents.

"Flexible working arrangements are a necessity nowadays, not an option . . . It can be used for people of all ages," she said.

For such arrangements to become more prevalent, a culture needs to be built up through sustained initiatives and consistent communication from the management, said Niki Kesoglou, Credit Suisse director and regional head of senior talent development.