Five Top Tips on Flexible Work

‘Flex specialist’ Gillian Brookes offers five tips to relieve leaders’ hybrid headaches and flex frustrations.

Are you tired of flex? Do you wish we could move on, go back to normal and just stop talking about it? It might not be a fashionable opinion that you express openly, but if you relate to it, you’re not alone. Even the best managers have moments like this.

More people want to work from home more of the time and try other types of flex. It may be becoming increasingly stressful having so many expectations across your team and feeling you’re inadequately managing the growing complexity of arrangements. The survival tactic you’ve might have adopted for now is to plug the gaps yourself to make flex work (to a point). You’re perhaps exhausted by it now and know it’s reached a limit for you. Yet, there appears to be no let-up.

Here are top five tips to relieve your hybrid headaches and flex frustrations:

  1. Get out of the way: You can’t manage this from the centre anymore, through endless one-to-one conversations. Your role is now about facilitating (and participating in) regular flex team discussions.
  1. Put more responsibility on your team: This can’t work if the responsibility all falls to you. There are far too many moving pieces for that to be a reasonable expectation. Adopt Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote, “with freedom comes responsibility”. People want the freedom that comes from flex. To access that they’ll take on the responsibility to make it work, not just for themselves, but for the other people they connect with in their work.
  1. Replace flex rules with flex tools: It’s reasonable to give people responsibility to come up with feasible flex options, only if robust tools and support are available and accessible. In the absence of good flex tools, we often have flex rules, such as, “you can only work from home two days per week”. These are too blunt to be useful to most teams. Flex tools help you safely explore bolder ways of working that ensure work delivery and people’s wellbeing get the boost we are all looking for.
  1. Define flex success: How can you feel safe to try out new flex ways of working? Agree what success looks like up front. If the success doesn’t come, you can let go of a flex experiment and try something else. The easiest way to do this is to track people’s flex perception scores with the question, “Score 1-10: How well is flex going for you right now?”. Success is defined by the condition that everyone’s score is at least as high as it was before the trial.
  1. Rinse and repeat every six months: Having flex team discussions at least every six months keeps you moving flex-forward without the stress. You’ll keep finding better ways of working that deliver on the benefits of flex for you, your team and the quality of your work.

Gillian Brookes is a flex specialist. Her recently published book is available now, ‘Flexperts – Getting the best from flex in a world that’s ever changing’. You can find out more via her website

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