How to increase work flexibility

How to increase work flexibility so you can do everything you want

Jacintha Verdegaal

Most of us want it, but only few of us have it: work flexibility. Being able to combine and balance different interests or responsibilities because nobody is dictating when and where you should work. If – years from now – you don’t want to look back at your life realizing you’ve missed important moments, then you need to take control of your time and look for work flexibility right now!

Are you spending your time on what matters?

We all know the stories of senior business leaders, climbing the career ladder in their power suits at the expense of other priorities. Being perceived as important seems to justify their choices, make it ‘worth it’. Until they’re made redundant or perceived as less valuable by their employer. All of a sudden they realize they’ve spent their time on the wrong things and not on what really makes them happy.

What does work flexibility mean to you?

So what can you do to avoid this? The first step is to decide what flexibility means to you. Having ‘work-life balance’ seems to be the ultimate goal here, but that means something different to everyone. Define what your priorities are. What would an average week look like without anyone claiming your schedule or where you need to be?

Do you have the freedom to do what you want?

The next question you need to ask yourself is whether your current work situation allows you to do this. Does your employer allow you to go for a walk or play your favorite sport when you want? Or step away from work when at that moment someone or something needs your attention more? There are no right or wrong answers to what flexibility means to you, what matters is if you’re experiencing the freedom you desire.

Take action for more work flexibility

If the answer is no, then it’s time to act. If you have a full-time job that you’re otherwise very happy with, discuss it with your boss. These days more companies are open to giving important employees more flexibility if that means they’ll stay. If they’re hesitant, offer to do a trial for a month to demonstrate you can be just – if not more – productive doing it your way. 

Your path to more professional fulfilment

Another option is to quit working for one employer and become independent working for several companies that want to hire you. It takes some courage to start, but research shows that people with alternate sources of income experience more professional fulfilment than those dependent on a single income source. It will give you more peace of mind about your financial situation, since a ‘permanent’ job can also end at any moment. But maybe more importantly, it allows you to work on multiple things that will stimulate and challenge you intellectually more than a traditional job can. 

Going back to the topic of flexibility, mixing work environments enables you to be available for personal commitments and gives you a choice to take up an activity or not. You’re the boss, so how you want to spend your time is up to you.

Find companies that match with your values

Ready to make some changes, but not sure where to start? Think about what drives you and what you’d like to do professionally to define your ‘value proposition’. Why should someone hire you? Discuss it with people in your network to see if there’s a need for this kind of work. But don’t limit yourself to people you know. Online there are many platforms and marketplaces for almost every industry that can connect or match you with the right companies. 

Test if more work flexibility works for you

And don’t feel pressured to completely change your entire professional life from one day to the next. What’s great about these platforms (like Tasker is offering for engineers) is that you can determine when you’d like to work and how much. So give it a try! Work on a small project in your free time to test if this is something that could work for you. Although we promise you, once you experience work flexibility, you never want to go back to living without. 

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