The importance of work flexibility
Posted by Amy Bell on 5 July 2023

Someone once told me that a large corporation is like an oil tanker while a SME is like a speedboat. You can turn a speedboat really quickly, in a small area but a tanker takes miles.

What does flexibility mean?

According to the Cambridge dictionary, flexibility means:

  • able to change or be changed easily according to the situation:
  • able to bend or to be bent easily without breaking:

When we run our communications messaging workshops, many companies tell us that one of the words they would like to use to describe themselves is ‘flexible’, but what do they mean by this?

Is flexibility in the workplace defined by their ability to change direction quickly as a business, or is it more about the way they do business, I.e., they work flexibly? This could be where their team members work or that they work within a particular rule structure.

Why is it important to define the difference

While one is a choice with roots in the cultural preferences of a business for its staff and the community base the other requires a business methodology and specific structure to work.   

In some cases, it could be argued that when and where the team members work has no relevance to the customers they serve, and others will see it as something that is fluffy and irrelevant to business. This, in our view, is what we call the more traditional approach and is how most traditional business models operate.  

When it comes to offering flexibility for its customers and having the ability to be flexible as a business, that is the difference between being a speedboat or a tanker.

Team structure and working patterns will allow a business to work in ways that suit their customers, altering activities and procedures to meet their customers, sometimes, changing needs.

Changing direction of the actual business will also be a process that needs to be managed no matter how quickly you are able to do it. The most flexible businesses have the structure and communications processes in place within their teams to be able to react to the world around them and choose new directions or paths with ease.

Why is employment flexibility important?

We recognise that the traditional working regime doesn’t work for everyone, and even the traditional view of ‘flexible working’, which does have its benefits, doesn’t give enough freedom for some.

The need for work flexibility, for whatever reason it occurs, can be a barrier to employment and sustainable, fulfilling careers.

One of the challenges can be our individuality, we all have different learning styles and ways of taking in information, we also all have our own preferred place and schedule of working. Not everyone can look at a spreadsheet morning till night, write and create at 9am, or sit at a desk all day.

Traditionally, those who didn’t fit into the classic 9-5 office schedule looked towards shift work – mainly because there were no other flexible work options available, but this comes with its own challenges and isn’t particularly flexible for last minute needs.

What about ‘flexible working’? A phrase used by many businesses around today and a great starting point. Although not truly flexible, these organisations offer much more freedom than others by allowing changeable start and finish times, and the ability to build up over time and gain it back in lieu.

Flexibility and Hey Me

For us, we try to equip ourselves to practice both forms of flexibility. We can change direction at speed, if and when required, but we also work with a huge amount of flexibility.

First of all, we are a hybrid team. We work from home (café, hotel, garden centre, garden, car), and we meet up sometimes. We also work from our shared office and client offices when needed.

Secondly, we don’t work traditional hours. In fact, we don’t have set hours at all. All of the team choose their hours to best fit their lives, we could work at 2am in the morning if we wanted to.

We do all of this while ensuring that we are available for clients when and how they need us.  

Finally, when it comes to changing direction as a business, we are structured in a way that allows different specialisms and expertise to shine through in different situations, we endeavor to learn from each other and we continuous look for opportunities, or ways to navigate challenges.

We’ve found that because of our working environment, hours and hybrid team (who are based across the country) we can work with clients when and where they need us adapting to their requirements whilst maintaining our freedom and that all important flexibility.

What does flexibility mean in practice?

Flexibility is integral to who we are as a business. It was set up due to a medical condition suffered by our MD, which means she can’t always work at the same times every day.

To our team, flexibility means that we can choose our work hours, so long as we work to the requirements of clients. This means that if we need a day to run errands, go to appointments, look after relatives or just need time to ourselves, we can take it. On the flipside of that, if we have time or feel the urge to write an article at 10pm at night, we can.  If we need to work within school hours, we can. If we need to start early, stop for a few hours and start again later, we can.

And, if we need to work for a client inside or outside of the ‘traditional’ workday, we can, we just move our hours accordingly.

As we work remotely, most of the time, we can also work wherever works for us. Which can greatly affect our productivity, wellbeing and comfort.

From a business perspective, we can make decisions for ourselves very quickly as well as being able to act for and on behalf of clients at speed.

In the most part we operate under the idea that if we are pre-warned we are pre-armed, so we spend time gathering and sharing information.

Time spent during our messaging workshops with clients is integral to this process, we take time to gain an in-depth understanding of our client’s businesses, their culture and help them to develop their stories. This is partly due to our working relationships with our clients, we work to become part of your team and as such we can deployed on your behalf.

Why are we flexible?


Due to illness, Hey Me was set up with a flexible working routine from the beginning and then as other team members joined, it worked so well, we didn’t see the point in changing it.

Some team members need flexibility to look after children, others to complete further study or volunteer. Our commitment to flexibility aims to allow those who need a different work routine to be able to pursue, continue and excel in their careers, in a way that may not be possible within another organisation.

As a business…The very nature of our work in communications, and the changing world around us, requires Hey Me to be able to change direction and offer different levels and types of service activities to our clients and the industries we operate in. If we are to be able to provide valued help and support to SMEs we must adapt to their needs and challenges, and who we are and how we work puts us in the best possible position to be able to do this.  

For more on flexible working, take a look at our article The benefits of flexible working for employees & businesses

“Since day one, Amy herself has fit seamlessly into our team, understanding the message we want to convey and the audiences we want to reach. Her upfront audit was invaluable in helping us internally hone our common voice, which has demonstrated itself in the consistency of the content we put out as a brand and as individuals within the company. Behind the scenes, Amy has instinctively adopted our internal communication methods (Slack, SharePoint) and works closely with our in-house graphic design team to ensure our graphics and copy are in sync.” Lucy Prior MBE - previously from 3Squared 2021
“I saved so much time after implementing a more structured approach which has given me the opportunity to focus on creating more content and work more closely with my clients. Amy and her team are easy to deal with and are quick to provide valuable solutions. I would not hesitate to work with Hey Me again in the future.” Karen Duncan - Lanehead Coniston
“I met Amy a few years ago at a Young Rail Professionals event and was able to provide her with an opportunity to manage the comms on a major alliance which she flourished at. Soon after she started, Marie came along to provide HR support across the multiple businesses. It seems only natural that being as dynamic and knowledge as they are, they are looking to work together on this new venture, which I am sure will be a huge success.” Karen Duncan - Lanehead Coniston
“I saved so much time after implementing a more structured approach which has given me the opportunity to focus on creating more content and work more closely with my clients. Amy and her team are easy to deal with and are quick to provide valuable solutions. I would not hesitate to work with Hey Me again in the future.” Karen Duncan - Lanehead Coniston

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