Flexibility isn't working out...

Is it the flexible work arrangement, or something else?

Are you trying to make a flexible working arrangement happen and finding that it just isn’t working out? We know how frustrating and discouraging it can be when flexible work doesn’t go as you’d hoped — especially when you are relying on it to better balance different aspects of your life. So, here are common reasons why your flexible work might not be working out and how to overcome them.

You’ve yet to flex your thinking

Often, the biggest barriers to success are mental. Even though you want to unlock a life of balance and freedom, if you are stuck in the traditional ‘hours in the office = productivity’ mindset, flex is very unlikely to work. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has seen many of us trying out remote working as a flexible work arrangement, and non-traditional hours of work, we still have a long way to go to reorientate thinking around office work, management styles, leadership and productivity.


Flex Champion Tip: If you still feel stuck in a 9-to-5 mindset, it’s important to remind yourself that flexible working is most successful when you measure your productivity by the output of work you achieve rather than the hours you spend ‘working’ at your desk or at-home workstation.


You didn’t set the ground rules

We often hear that people who work flexibly are “just lucky”. This couldn’t be less true. Luck happens when opportunity meets preparation. If you want to make a flexible work arrangement thrive in your workplace, setting the ground rules with your team and understanding others’ different needs, boundaries and expectations will help ensure that your workplace gets flexible work right. Referring to your organisation’s flexible work policy is a very effective way to establish clear expectations of what flexible work is in your workplace.


Flex Champion Tip: If your organisation doesn’t have a formal policy, championing for one is a good place to start – without a formal flexible work policy the chances are your organisation hasn’t fully thought through how flexible work will integrate with its culture, or how to effectively manage and support it.


You aren’t building trust with your team

When it comes to working flexibly, having honest communication within a team is one of the biggest indicators of success. If you can’t trust your team and they can’t trust you, flex just isn’t going to work. Checking in to see that your flexible working arrangement is working for everyone is one of the biggest ways you can boost trust.


Flex Champion Tip: If, after seeking feedback from your team, some things aren’t working try to come up with solutions together—have open conversations about why things aren’t working and what the fix is.

You haven’t set clear boundaries & expectations

Being clear on when you’re available to work, what you’re willing to take on and when you will deliver on outcomes are all crucial boundaries and expectations to set and communicate with your team. If you are not used to doing this, it can feel uncomfortable putting yourself first, speaking up or saying no to a colleague. Managing boundaries and expectations will keep everyone on the same page, help you effectively deliver on outcomes and keep you ‘present’ on the tasks at hand both during your work hours and in your personal time.


Flex Champion Tip: Living out your boundaries and expectations is about honouring yourself and what matters to you, so give yourself permission to do so.


For more see Job Pair’s Five steps for creating boundaries & sticking to them.


You haven't optimised your time

One of the biggest advantages of flex work is having more freedom to manage your time. But if not managed properly, it can become an obstacle. One of the simplest things you can do to stay on top of everything is to write out a daily or weekly schedule. Try blocking out dedicated times for focused work around meetings you need to attend and other out-of-work commitments. Consider other factors like the time of day you are most productive or if scheduling in time to exercise will boost your focus. Once you can physically look at your schedule, ask yourself: 'What would make today great?' Prioritise the most important task first and be realistic about what you can get done in day.


Flex Champion Tip: Outsourcing your to-do lists, meeting times and deadlines to online applications like Monday.com or Trello can help free up your mind and ensure you spend your time on things that are actually important.


You are avoiding other problems

Flexible work isn’t an excuse to hide from the fact that you might not be in the right role, team or organisation. If you spend most of your workdays avoiding actually doing the work you need to get done, then it might be a sign of a deeper problem. The good news is that a flexible working arrangement can actually help you figure out what you want. Instead of hiding from the realities of a situation, you can make the intentional decision to redirect your energy and focus on discovering your passions and purpose.


Flex Champion Tip: Flex Work Champions use flexible work arrangements to help people upskill, study further education and make successful career changes.


Have you encountered problems trying to make flexible work possible? Let us know how you overcame them or if you still need help. We’d love to hear from you at hello@jobpair.com.au