Flexibility is something we have come to cherish in recent years, both in our personal lives and in our work. The degree to which we can enjoy this is often limited by certain parameters of course. Tell any working parent how to focus on flexibility, and they’ll quite rightly roll their eyes at you, as if they had never considered that concept before or needed us to tell them.
That said, as the Covid-19 pandemic has proven, there is real utility to focusing on flexibility when planning a career. More than the convenience, however, comes the real sense of comforting pace that we can enjoy from a diverse and varied weekly plan. Even working both at home and at the office, and being permitted to do both on relatively alternate days, can have a positive impact on our wellbeing through and through.
So – as we come to plan our careers, how can we focus on making them more flexible from now into the future? In this post, we’ll discuss nine tips that could help push your potential working life in that direction, cognisant of the responsibilities you may already have:
Remote Working Opportunities
Of course, we need to focus on the most common element of flexibility that even standard office workers are calling for – remote work. Forward-thinking companies are now starting to realize the utility of such plans, be that allowing for the scheduling of meetings even when not all of the appropriate staff are in the office, or keeping up communications with staff on business trips.
Now, as a matter of course, many firms are showcasing if remote work is a possibility on their recruitment listings. This can help you gather if this may be a possibility, or at the very least you can ask this in the interview. There’s a strong difference between taking five days spent in one working location and having the opportunity to work at home or elsewhere for one or two of those days.
It’s also important to gauge if your workplace will provide you with a device such as a laptop for this to be possible. Some insist on it, as it allows them to properly cultivate security on such a device, minimizing user error. Some may require you to bring your own equipment. If you’re looking for flexibility, remote working opportunities can lend you this – even in a relatively traditional and salaried position.
When your professional capabilities are assured, it can be worthwhile to think of other opportunities that you may be able to generate using them. For instance, consulting or providing outsourced assistance can be a great way to take on various projects, goals, and clients, spending time with their projects and systems.
This can give you the opportunity to travel. It can also give you the chance to tackle unique situations and problems that require your expertise to solve. This might involve helping a startup to refine its copy, another to help curate the nuances of its web design goals, or another may need an industry professional with certain qualifications to verify their product will pass regulation. This is hardly an exhaustive list, which is what makes consulting so diverse and varied a role.
If you have the chance to travel for work or to find remote placements around or even outside of the country, it can be worthwhile to do so. For instance, travel nurse staffing opportunities can help one professional work within that field in many different settings and locations, effectively strengthening their resume like nothing else.
This can also give them the chance to work contracted jobs in certain areas and then choose the next one they’d most like to be associated. Each placement completed is another resounding testament to your versatility and willingness to take on new challenges, providing help where you see it. It might be that you fill out in a temp role for certain employees at certain hospitals, or work with vaccination programs at the other end of the country depending on what roles are available.
It’s worth asking if a similar setup is available in your particular industry. You may be surprised just how many alternate options are out there.
The Travel Industry & Parallels
Of course, if real change is what you’re looking for, then looking to roles that not only provide travel as a matter of luxury but a matter of necessity could be key. For instance, working in the travel industry, be that as an administrator on cruise ships, on airlines, or as a travel agent may help you gain access to more worthwhile and global opportunities.
The travel industry is just one example. It might be that working with a firm that audits or provides global training to other firms, you have the chance to travel continuously also. Parallels using travel as a fundamental need can help you expand in your role, even if that simply means working up to a regional position.
There’s nothing more global than the internet, and while it’s still a relatively new invention, it’s not hard to see why it would levy the most flexibility of all. Online freelancing, for instance, is becoming a common means for people with particular skills to further market their capabilities.
Copywriting, graphic design, web design, skills development, training, even life coaching, all of this has been in the works for some time via online platforms, but when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, for a while this avenue became the norm. As such, it has been normalized. While not everyone can work online constantly nor would they like to, ignoring what potential opportunities may lay in your way, or the benefits of developing an online identity that may be able to source work in the first place may be a mistake. It’s worth thinking about, at least.
Global Skills Development & Employment
Taking overseas employment for a time in a specific role can give you the experience you need to do that again, to feel comfortable in other cultures, and to gain insight that employers often see as invaluable.
For instance, if you have experience working in a company abroad, then a company looking to expand into those territories will no doubt need someone like you to yield insight as to the working culture there, and how to adapt the brand to fit to that market. Global skills development, in this way, can provide a thoroughly useful addition to your professional output and reputation.
So far in this list, we’ve discussed the benefits of taking on placements, of training, of considering a global perspective. All very lofty goals that can come at the mid-point of a professional career.
But what about those who are starting jobs anew, or looking for new work? What if they have more unique circumstances? Well, in order for working advice to be complete, it needs to account for everyone regardless of the career they’ve changed from or are working towards. After all, the Covid pandemic shifted working norms for thousands of people.
It can be healthy, then, to consider the part time opportunities available to you. That said, part-time can mean anything that isn’t quite full-time, and so arranging the hours with a prospective employer can be key. It might be that depending on the work, you get to arrange a few days off per week for a higher amount of hours. In the UK right now, certain companies are even trialing a four-day working week.
While this might not be as reliable as you once considered, an approach like this can keep you sharp and proactive when searching for the best output.
It’s a great idea to negotiate flexibility to the degree that you can. It might be that your current boss is more than happy for you to work using alternate arrangements provided you retain the productivity and output of before.
Perhaps a real case could be made for negotiating flexibility in terms of the productivity increase felt when remote working was an option. Or, perhaps you might find that recent crunch has led to employee burnout, and presenting this to your higher-ups as a manager can help you see that foresight, not last-minute planning, is key to getting the most out of our employees next time around.
Sometimes – to gain the benefits of flexibility, all you have to do is ask.
Rearranging Your Lifestyle
Of course, sometimes, rearranging our lifestyle to better help with work flexibility is just as important as making work adhere to your own lifestyle. After all, work is part of our lives.
For instance, you might find that working weekends frees you up time in the week, which is ideal because this gives you a little extra time to spend with your children as both you and your ex-partner take care of them on a rotating schedule. Thinking about this from the opposite direction as laid out in this limited example could help you think of the outcomes in an entirely new, better manner.
With this advice, we hope you can make your career more flexible and ultimately more rewarding for you.