Being successful in the workplace requires a great deal of flexibility. Whether finding ways to complete a task more efficiently, adapting to changes in technology or methodologies, or learning how to collaborate effectively, showing a willingness to be flexible is often the key to success. The ability to pivot quickly and offer flexibility when a situation requires it is a valuable skill in the workplace.
What is flexibility at work?
Flexibility in the workplace is the ability of employees to adjust their daily work habits, schedules, priorities, job roles, and responsibilities to accommodate ever-changing circumstances. It requires a high level of adaptability and initiative to respond quickly and effectively to any situation. It also involves being open-minded and willing to consider new ways of doing things while always keeping the end goal in mind.
Being flexible in the workplace can mean a few different things, depending on the context. Generally, though, it refers to being adaptive and responsive when situations call for out-of-the-box solutions.
It means being able to go with the changes that come your way while still staying productive and organized in a changing environment.
In everyday work scenarios, flexibility is adapting to newer technologies, moving timelines around, multitasking efficiently, or even having open conversations about ideas that do not fit into an existing model or approach.
Why is flexibility so important?
Flexibility at work is becoming increasingly essential in today’s global workplace. It can range from the ability to work remotely, working out of unconventional hours, or taking on additional responsibilities outside your job description.
Being flexible at work is incredibly important because flexibility allows us to adapt quickly in rapidly changing environments, take advantage of timely opportunities that arise, and handle unexpected challenges while still meeting our goals.
Flexible employees respect one another’s opinions and ideas, which is crucial for fostering an environment of team collaboration that ultimately leads to better results. Here are 13 examples of flexibility:
1. Remaining calm during challenging times
Remaining calm in chaotic and stressful situations is an excellent demonstration of remarkable flexibility and adaptability.
It may not always be easy, but it is a skill that can make all the difference in how well you work under pressure.
Staying relaxed when chaos ensues allows for clear thinking instead of acting impulsively or making rush decisions which can cause further confusion or even harm further down the line.
Remaining calm allows you to digest complex problems, develop practical solutions, and make impactful decisions far faster than if you were emotionally overwhelmed by a situation.
Overall, flexibility allows you to handle things as they come at you with poise or react calmly whenever you face adverse conditions. It demonstrates that you are capable of dealing with complex issues without panicking.
2. Quickly receptive to new ideas
Examples of flexibility at work include being receptive to new ideas and adapting quickly to changes.
Flexibility at work also includes actively listening to suggestions from fellow team members or managers — considering their perspectives even if they differ from your own, and agreeing on solutions together.
Building a positive dialogue among peers fosters an environment of evaluating and exchanging ideas freely and openly — and reaching a common goal.
Read also: 15 Examples of Commitments
3. Accepting criticism without being defensive
Accepting constructive criticism without being defensive is largely a matter of perspective and attitude.
In essence, it comes down to recognizing that our initial focus should be on understanding the other person’s point of view and considering the advice when faced with critical feedback or ideas.
We must avoid any knee-jerk negative reaction, such as lashing out in anger or denial. Instead of immediately reacting negatively or defending yourself, try to take in what is being said objectively and consider if there may be any truth.
This does not mean you have to agree with everything said — sometimes the other person might not have all the correct information — but instead, you should accept that there may be valid points worth exploring further.
4. Staying late or arriving early to help the team
Flexibility means adjusting your work habits and practices to accommodate different situations, often with limited resources.
Staying late or arriving early to help the team meet tight deadlines and goals is one tangible example of displaying flexibility at work.
Making yourself available outside of regular hours, like staying late after work or coming in earlier than usual on certain days when it is beneficial.
Changing your routine depends on who needs support within the company at any given moment — whether taking over another task because a colleague is overloaded or chipping into someone else’s workload so they can focus their energy elsewhere.
5. Responding to emails and phone calls at any time
You may be wondering what is considered “normal business hours.” Most people think regular business hours are from Monday through Friday, 9 am-5 pm. However, some jobs require employees to be available outside of those hours.
For example, if you work in customer service, you may need to respond to emails and phone calls after 5 pm or on the weekends.
Even if you are not required to work outside of regular business hours, it is still a good idea to be responsive to emails and phone calls from clients or customers.
Being flexible and available when your clients need you can demonstrate that you are reliable and dedicated to your job. Also, it shows that you care about your client’s needs and are willing to do whatever possible to serve them.
6. Adapting quickly to new workplace policies
Workplace policies are essential for maintaining a harmonious work environment and providing employees with the protection, security, and resources they need to be successful.
However, as businesses evolve and new challenges arise. Also, workplace policies are constantly changing for the company to remain competitive, modernize procedures, or adhere to legal requirements and best practices.
It would help if you adapted quickly by changing your approach, methods, or ways of doing things rapidly to comply with new procedures.
It means that you are agile and can easily adjust to conform to a new environment, process, or set of expectations.
7. Being patient with customers and coworkers
It would be best if you were patient with customers. They are sometimes in a different mood and may be dealing with many challenges themselves.
But being patient with customers is only part of the equation. You may also need to be patient with your coworkers. We all have our strengths and weaknesses and work at different speeds.
So, be flexible and understanding, especially when someone else is struggling with work and running behind schedule, or coworkers who are new or are not doing their job as well as you would like.
Being patient does not mean that you have to put up with someone’s bad behavior. It means you are willing to give people the time they need to learn, understand or improve.
You can still hold people accountable, but you do so in a way that is respectful and understanding.
Read more: 15 Examples of Taking Ownership
8. Shifting priorities without complaint
No two days are ever the same, and you often need to be able to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.
For example, if your boss asks you to work on a project due tomorrow, you will need to drop everything else and focus on that project. Or one day, you might meet with clients, while the next, you are crunching numbers in the back office.
If you cannot handle changes easily, succeeding in a fast-paced or demanding workplace will be challenging. The bottom line is that you should always be prepared to roll with the punches and do whatever is needed to help your team succeed.
9. Folding yourself into different roles as needed
Fold yourself into different roles as needed to meet company goals. For example, if the company is looking for a new market, be open to learning about and researching that new market. If your company wants to increase sales, be willing to help with lead sales initiatives.
If the goal is to improve process or efficiency, volunteer for or offer suggestions on process improvement projects. Be ready to do whatever it takes to help the company meet its goals — it will show that you are dedicated and want to see the company succeed.
10. Working extra hours during crunch time
Crunch time is used in the workplace to describe the intense and time-consuming work period before a major deadline. Many employees work more hours to meet the deadline during this time.
So, your willingness to work extra hours during crunch time demonstrates your flexibility and adaptability, both essential qualities in a successful employee.
When the company is facing a busy period and needs extra help, being able to step up and offer your time and energy is highly commendable. It shows that you have a solid commitment to your job.
11. Pivoting quickly whenever work plan changes
No one enjoys being surprised, especially regarding changes in our work plans. When we receive little or no notice of a change, it throws us off balance and disrupts our workflow.
This can lead to frustration and even anger.
Unfortunately, change can come from anywhere. From a boss who changes their mind about a task or may give you a new project to work on with very little notice, or new priorities at the last minute, a client may have a sudden change in their needs that impacts your work or even changes in company direction.
No matter the change, you need to pivot quickly and adapt to the new situation.
Read more: 16 Examples of Taking Responsibility at Work
12. Facing difficult situations with a positive attitude
Facing difficult situations with a positive attitude and determination is yet another way of exhibiting excellence and flexibility in the workplace.
The ability to stay focused despite numerous obstacles shows others that you can remain determined no matter what life throws at you.
Such an attitude can be incredibly beneficial in helping teams achieve their goals and providing encouragement during challenging times.
13. Communicating effectively with others
Communicating effectively with others, even under challenging circumstances, is essential for showing versatility at work.
It demonstrates to those around you that despite difficulties, complications, or even disagreements, you can still converse professionally with your peers while maintaining a level-headed demeanor.
Also, listening attentively to others without prejudice and understanding them creates harmony among coworkers and leads to better results overall.
Showing flexibility in the workplace is an invaluable skill that allows us to remain agile when facing challenges or changes while maintaining focus on our goals.
Flexibility at work is beneficial for the individual and team success. It encourages collaboration among colleagues — leading us to form meaningful relationships with coworkers and ultimately find fulfillment in our jobs.