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What does flexibility mean to you?

Updated: Aug 7

I thought I’d ask

I did this poll on LinkedIn.

You see, it's the word 'flexibility' that got to me.

Because, more often than not, what we mean by flexibility, or flexible working, is - you know - working fewer hours. Compressed hours. Being able to work from home.

Which made me think.

Because is that all it means? Really?

What is flexibility?

If the results of my LinkedIn poll are anything to go by flexible working is no longer about 'bums on seats', and the seats are no longer (only) in the office either.

Instead it's about:

  • Being clear on the results that need to achieved,

  • Where the best place to achieve those results is and

  • How to create mutual respect and effective communications between employees and their direct manager.

Flexibility - poll results

What is the verdict?

Forty-three percent of all respondents to my LinkedIn poll believed that hybrid working would provide them with real flexibility. Similarly 43% felt that it was all about results, that it is no longer about 'bums on seats' but instead about the results that you deliver.

Interestingly though, there was also a whole discussion about what it ALSO meant.

A snapshot:

  • Open and honest ongoing communications between managers and employees - to ensure that expectations are set and met

  • Trust and respect - Not every manager has high emotional intelligence or has received the training to be a good manager/ leader, leading to micro-management and a lack of trust

  • Treating people as adults - If you treat people like adults you can expect adult behaviour

  • Outcome focused flexibility over personal preference flexibility - This is interesting! How does your personal preference align with where you'd achieve the best outcomes?

A lot to ponder over!

So, what does flexibility mean?

You see, I don't buy that flexibility is only about what hours you work and where.

I believe flexibility is also about attitude. About being flexible when circumstances or plans change. About the willingness to (constantly) communicate. About seeing your manager or your employee as an actual grown-up human being (which they are), with flaws, with insecurities, with other things going on, with goals to hit and things to stress them out.

In the end, I believe that flexibility is not a one-way street. Yes, it's about employers creating the right circumstances for results to be achieved. It's also about knowing what works best for you, and to have a willingness to communicate your wants and needs.

Flexibility should not only be about where the work is done, and if it should be done in 36 or 40 hours.

Flexibility means so much more than that. Do you agree?

What does Flexibility mean to you?


This blog appeared as a newsletter first on 8 April 2022.

Tineke Tammes is an ICF credentialed Career Coach, who supports professional women in making successful transitions to careers of Freedom, Flexibility and Fulfilment! Besides that she is also a lifelong feminist, part-time portrait artist, never-only-read-one-book-at-any-time reader, and obsessive doodler. Oh, and she knows a bit about change management too.

Join her now in Pick 'n Mix - the FREE community for creative, multi-passionate women or sign up for her newsletter.

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