7 Ways to Be More Flexible at Work or On a Team

When working on a team or at a job, there can be a multitude of changes that happen that have you working with different colleagues or taking on roles you might not have been ready for. As such, being able to adapt swiftly to change, especially in a short time frame, is a powerful skill to have in the professional world.

Flexibility is the ability to adapt to sudden changes in a quick manner, and it is an essential skill demanded in most jobs or careers. After all, things can change at any time – we can’t look into the future and know exactly what is going to happen and when.

People who are flexible are invaluable when working on teams, as their responsiveness and focus can help manage and fix sudden or unexpected conflicts that occur during projects. By learning to be more flexible, you put yourself in the position where you are ready to deal with changes or problems as they come, and you can even prepare for unexpected events that might occur as well.

Though, there is even more to flexibility – it becomes a matter of how we think, how we manage ourselves, and how we get work done. With that in mind, here are seven ways you can become more flexible at work or in a team:

1. Have an Established Set of Principles

With the many changes that can happen when working professionally, having a core set of values that you don’t stray from can help you determine what you can take on for your team. This is a beneficial skill, as it can prevent you from agreeing to tasks that you’re not comfortable with or don’t feel capable of performing.

By understanding what you will do willingly for your team, you can quickly focus yourself on the the tasks in line with those standards you have set for yourself. Of course, if anybody comes up to you for something that is legally or ethically wrong – even if it’s meant to help the team meet its goals – walk away.

2. Be Open to Different Perspectives

When you’re having trouble making important decisions that will impact the company or team, discussing the matter with your colleagues and understanding their viewpoints can help you better handle the situation. Even if you feel like some of the members wouldn’t be that helpful, it still doesn’t hurt to ask. You may be surprised at what you learn from others!

Another point to keep in mind is practicing active listening and understanding the thoughts and ideas from your colleagues. While you might be stressed or nervous with your decision, hold back any knee-jerk reactions to what they see and fully hear them out.

The same also goes for when someone comes up to you with a task; instead of making a rash judgement, take some time to think about how you and the team would be impacted by the task. While it might seem annoying, that task could more important than you think, and you could get a lot out of it.

3. Learn New Skills and Develop Your Current Ones

An important aspect of being flexible is being ready to deal with what comes, and that means having the necessary skills to meet the task. The last you want is taking on a big task that just came up and realizing you have no clue how to perform or handle it – especially if no one else can take care of it.

Of course, that kind of situation can be rare, but it’s better to expect the unexpected and being ready for what pops up. To be ready for those kinds of situations, keep an eye out for any learning opportunities to build an understanding of things you aren’t familiar with. You could even talk with some of your colleagues and learn a thing or two from them.

There aren’t really any limits to this: it’s just up to your willingness to learn and looking into skills you can learn that could benefit you and your team.

4. Stay Positive

Easier said than done, I know, but it really makes a difference to keep your spirits up even in the worst of times. Looking at the benefits and opportunities you get from difficult projects or tasks can keep you motivated and committed to finishing them. This could be meeting new people, growing your skill set, or just trying something new to switch up the work you do.

Whatever it is that motivates you, keeping a positive outlook will help you get through situations that would otherwise feel impossible to overcome. You might even want to look outward for inspiration or motivation to get you through the harder work days. This could come from anywhere – people you’re close with, the outdoors, or even things in your day-to-day life.

5. Keep a Calm Head

When you find yourself having to take an a vital role or make an important decision for your team or company, you might get stressed or nervous and start to panic. This only makes things worse, as people tend to have more trouble focusing and making decisions when they are stressed. As such, it’s crucial that you stay calm and focus on the task at hand.

There are many ways you can practice keeping your stress levels to a minimum, including exercising and getting enough sleep. If you can manage your stress and keep yourself calm and focused in your work, you’ll be ready to take on surprises or challenges with a clear mind.

6. Plan for Everything

No one see into the future, that much is for certain. Even so, you can still expect the unexpected and plan for anything that could go wrong. If you’re expecting some changes or new progress in your team or work, you can think through the impacts and start planning the best plan of action for each scenario.

At the same time, you can look into potential risks for these developments and plan out how to deal with them if they come up. Be sure to talk with other members of your team about any concerns you have – the more hands to help, the better. They’ll appreciate your preparedness and help make sure those problems don’t happen.

With any kind of work that you do, always have a plan.

7. Have a Strong Support Network

Having people ready to support you when you’re stressed or struggling can help you get through the difficult times you’re experiencing. Not only that, but those people can help keep you motivated and focused on achieving your goals, which will help push the team forward.

Connect with the people you work with and show them that you’re someone they can trust. For instance, you could help them with tasks they’re struggling with or cover for them if they’re in a bind. You shouldn’t necessarily be stretching yourself thin for your colleagues – you probably have a lot to deal with already – but try to improve the relationships you have with them.

By doing so, you’ll help motivate others to work together and stay positive, all while encouraging them to help support you when you need it.


Overall, flexibility is an incredibly powerful and useful skill to have at work or in any team you work with. Being able to adapt to unexpected changes and quickly take action will make you a valuable member of your team or workplace. At the same time, you can be ready to tackle anything that comes your way, both efficiently and with a strong focus.

However, being flexible is a matter of managing how you work, how you interact with others, and how you think through the different situations you find yourself in. If you can make the necessary changes, you’ll be ready to adapt yourself to the sudden and varying demands of your team or work as you achieve your goals.

Published by Gerardo Lucena

Gerardo Lucena is a Junior at the University of Michigan pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. He has programming experience in C++, and he has worked with Michigan Hyperloop and MRover during his first two years at the University.

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