How to Be More Flexible at Work: 10 Top Tips

Get out of the rut you're stuck in and learn to be a little more flexible.

Reviewed by Hayley Ramsey

Person trying to be more flexible at work

Being flexible and open are important skills and qualities to develop in order to enjoy your job and progress in your career. Being someone who is flexible and open to new experiences has positive benefits, such as helping you to be more resilient, less upset by change, and making it easier to adapt to anything unexpected that occurs. In fact, it was found that businesses that were most flexible and open to change were the ones that didn’t just survive through the Covid-19 pandemic, but thrived.

Flexible working means being open to trying new things and allowing yourself to be less structured in your approach. This can have big implications on how efficiently you perform at work and how you support an organization to grow.

So, in this article, we’re going to give you some tips on how to be more flexible at work, so you can go to work feeling confident and happy.

Tips for being flexible and open in the workplace

Being flexible is key to being able to take on new challenges and see them in a positive light is integral to developing within your role and contributing to the organization you work for. Here are our tips for making sure you are making the most of these qualities and getting the best that you can out of your role.

1. Discover your skillset

To feel confident that you can be flexible within your role and open to change in your job description, it’s important to feel confident in your skills. If you aren’t sure how well you would be able to cope with something new because you haven’t realized you actually have the skills, change can feel daunting.

Do some work on yourself and discover what you’re good at so you know what skills you can offer and where your strengths lie. This might help you feel more confident about trying new things, move into different areas and suggest alternatives.

2. Be open minded

Some people see having to change within their job role to be a problem. They don’t like to be asked to do anything outside of their official job description. Obviously, being asked to do extra tasks that add stress and affect your work schedule is not good for your work-life balance, but adapting your role and being open to change can be a very positive experience. It can open you up to new things and improve job satisfaction. As the saying goes, “If you do what you always do, you’ll get the same results.”

3. Avoid a fixed mindset

A fixed mindset is where you do not accept that things can change. You believe your lot is set and there is nothing you can do to improve. This stops people from being flexible because they can’t see the point. It is the opposite of a growth mindset, which is the belief that you can always improve and grow.

4. Prioritize professional development

The key to having a flexible mindset is updating your skills and knowledge so that you are ready to take on new challenges. Taking on new qualifications in your own time is great, as well as in-house and external training courses offered through work — you could even learn a new language! Courses don’t have to expensive, they don’t even have to be accredited. You can also update your professional development through books, free courses and taking the time to find a mentor.

5. Don’t be a meticulous planner

An integral part of being flexible is to accept that things do not always go as we plan and being able to make adjustments to goals. Having a goal is an excellent approach, but the way you reach your goal needs to be flexible and changing depending on circumstances, changes at work and the market, and any other bumps in the road you encounter.

6. Relish change

Change is often seen in a negative light, but change is actually what moves us forward. Change can be exciting and full of possibilities if you let it. While it’s often hard to make changes, and the risks can seem big, the benefits of trying something new can be huge. Change doesn’t have to be massive, it can be little tweaks, and these little tweaks through being flexible can make a big difference to an outcome.

7. Think about the future

What do you want to achieve in your job? Are you looking for a promotion beyond your current role? It’s good practice to take some time to think about what you want from your career and how you might get there. Often doing this kind of exercise will help you see that some changes are needed in order to make the next step. This is where being flexible comes in and being open to new experiences. Embrace anything that comes your way and see it as part of a bigger picture of reaching your career goals.

8. Take inspiration from others

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the businesses that were able to alter their services, like those offering remote working, that survived. They proved that being flexible and not refusing to make changes is a way of innovating. Take a look at people you admire, and you will probably see that they are open to suggestions, take risks, make changes and use innovation to move on up. Entrepreneurs such as Richard Branson are a great example of this. He started out with records and now owns multiple companies in a variety of fields.

9. Calculate risks

Change can be risky, but there are levels of risk. Being open and trying new things doesn’t have to be risky, it can be small changes that add up to big changes, or trialing ideas knowing that if they don’t work out, nothing has been lost at all. Being flexible is a small change in approach that can open your eyes to new things, or help your employer see your potential in different areas. It’s always sensible to calculate any risks to see if a move is worth it.

10. Be innovative

You’ve heard the term “think outside the box”, right? It may be cliché, but it is good advice. Being innovative comes from being flexible in approach and open to new ideas and experiences. Often being open will lead you to think of alternative means of doing something, and can give you the experience and opportunities to put yourself into positions where innovation flourishes.

Learn a few of the other secrets to success by watching this video: 

Key takeaways

Being flexible and open are important qualities that will help you excel in your career, make your job enjoyable, and add value to any business or organization. Being flexible allows you to be prepared for any unexpected events or changes, giving you the skills to come up with new ways of approaching a situation. Being open to change and ideas is the key to growth. Businesses and people develop because of innovations that can’t happen without openness.

Take the time to work on your own skills and practice letting go of any belief that there is only one way of doing something and embrace change and new ideas. Working in this way will allow your flexibility and openness to grow.

What are you doing to become more flexible at work? Let us know in the comments below!

Originally published 6 August 2014.