Flexibility is frequently touted as a major asset in the workplace, a buzzword to use in interviews, and what we should all strive to be described as by our peers and superiors alike. Yes, being the person who is able to “go with the flow” and stay calm in the face of change is an asset to any team. However, it is important to note that there are times that the willingness to be flexible in one area can result in decreased productivity in other areas.

Knowing the pros and cons of workplace flexibility (as outlined below) can help us to determine when having a flexible mentality will be beneficial and when it can be detrimental.

Workplace Flexibility Pros:

  • When you are flexible at work, you open yourself up to new opportunities and experiences- some of which could boost your resume later on down the road, or even earn you a promotion at your current company.
  • If your employer has agreed to, or even encourages, flexible work arrangements, a four-day work week or even working from your favorite coffee shop a few afternoons a week can become a reality. Imagine completing your work during your most productive hours and at your most productive workspace- replacing the typical 9-5 office workday. Flexible work arrangements can also mean being able to attend parent/teacher conferences and family vacations. This freedom in your schedule will improve both your work/life balance and overall job satisfaction.
  • Although you were hired to fill a specific role, workplace flexibility could mean that your role within the company changes as your strengths develop and weaknesses become apparent. Being flexible in your roles and responsibilities can ensure that the entire team’s talents are being utilized to the fullest.

Workplace Flexibility Cons:

  • Being too flexible can deter you from completing your workload and meeting deadlines. Sure, saying “yes” when approached with changes will make you a popular employee at first; however, it may also result in difficulty meeting your employer’s expectations. In other words- yes, making changes to your schedule or routine may be beneficial to the team, but keep in mind that it may not be worth decreasing your own productivity for.
  • If you are known around work for being flexible, you run the risk of becoming the office “yes person”. No one wants to be the designated person that everyone assumes will be flexible (even at the expense of their own responsibilities). In order to avoid becoming everyone’s “yes person”, your flexibility should always be accompanied by clear boundaries to ensure that your workload is a priority.
  • A lack of clear expectations can be a major downfall of flexibility in the workplace. With too many moving parts in the office, team members may become confused about who is responsible for what and where everyone is supposed to be. In order to be successfully flexible, ongoing communication is necessary.

Ultimately, our goal should not be to be the most flexible person in the office; rather, our goal should be to know when flexibility will be more beneficial than sticking to our routine or planned activities.  Don’t bend over backwards to be flexible at the expense of your career.