How to make flexible working work for you – Career Counselling – photo of woman doing yoga with sunset background

How to make flexible working work for you

A 3 minute read • Part 1 of 2 • Jane G

Part of our career counselling series. Flexible working, where people have much more freedom about where and when they work is becoming ever more popular and – in some sectors – it’s perhaps even becoming the standard way of working.

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Technology has made it possible to work differently and communicate effectively when working remotely and at different times. Plus the changing nature of work means that much of it does not need to be done in one place at one time. These factors are driving a demand for more freedom at work1.

How to make flexible working work for you – Career Counselling – photo of woman doing yoga with sunset background

Despite this, there are many employers that still don’t allow employees enough freedom around how they work – and who use rules to control when and where they do it.

On the other hand, in many of the more progressive environments, there are employees and freelancers who have lots more freedom than they’re comfortable with – and who feel they would like more rules, structure and direction.

Whatever your current circumstances, how do you make flexible working work for you?

Creating the right focus

Regardless of how much freedom you have in your current role, you’re there to achieve something … and it may not just be what’s on your job description!

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Work is important to us: not only does it help pay the bills, but we can also get a real sense of fulfilment from working with other people and doing work that’s ‘good’.

Having a sense of control over our lives is important for our psychological wellbeing, and if you work in an environment where you feel out of control (because you have too much or too little freedom), it can be very stressful and can impact your mental wellbeing2.

Whether or not you work flexibly now, giving more thought to what you want to achieve through your work is important. A goal that you believe in, or a clear sense of purpose, is not only highly motivating but it can also give you a sense of control. It can guide your decisions and help you focus your energy on doing the right things.

Defining your own goals for life and work is helpful, but not always easy. In an ideal world employers would help you do that, but it isn’t often the case. So work on defining your goals – perhaps discuss it with a friend or colleague.

Here are a few other do’s and don’ts that will help you get more from your work and the time and energy you put into it:

Do …

  • Focus on the control you have and use it to make your job work for you
  • Work where and when you are most productive, even if it’s only changing the order in which you do your required tasks
  • Make a positive choice to move towards your own goals every day
  • Take time to create the structure you need to work effectively. Use productivity tools like Trello3, RescueTime4 and Google ‘productivity tools’ – many of these are free

Don’t …

  • Leave it up to your employer to manage your career; it’s your career
  • Expect your manager to understand how you work best
  • Forget that other people will be facing similar challenges; find them and work together
  • Leave decisions about your pay to chance; ensure you have an input (also see our article on how to ask for a pay rise)

So there are usually things you can do to create a more focused environment for yourself – but how about encouraging your employer to be more flexible? We look into this in part two.

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1ILM research
2Mind – Taking care of yourself

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