Flexible work practices should be available to everyone, not just women re-entering the workforce after a baby, a key advisory group says.
The Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) says fathers wanting to spend more time with their children, people caring for elderly parents and those preparing for retirement could all be more productive with flexible conditions.
The DCA launched a new research project on Monday calling for flexible work to become the norm rather than the exception for modern businesses.
Flexibility can involve varying start and finish times, working from home, reduced hours and different types of leave.
DCA CEO Nareen Young said part-time work should be viewed as more than just an option for women returning from childbirth.
"We need to stop it being thought of as something that is second class, that is not about a career, that is only for women," Ms Young told a business forum in Sydney on Monday.
"Flexible work and careers for all employees is achievable and mutually beneficial for employers and employees."
Ms Young said many employees - not just women - could benefit from a working environment that encouraged flexible roles.
Westpac senior executive Christine Parker said research showed that businesses using a flexible-work model were more productive and likely to attract better employees.
"It enables organisations... to be sustainable and adaptive to change," Ms Parker said.
"It also creates a real advantage in the war for talent.
"Quite simply, it's the right thing to do."
She said one recent report showed flexible work options increased retention in men by 25 per cent and women by 40 per cent.
A report commissioned by DCA also said that over time, flexibility in the workforce could lead to greater gender equality.