Is 9-5 a Thing of the Past?

Studies show that workplace autonomy increases employees' sense of job satisfaction, creativity, motivation, and overall well-being. Many employers have found that as they are less micromanaging and allow more autonomy and self-governance, their employees to be more productive. With more employees working from home or in virtual office spaces during the pandemic, we have seen that this idea holds true. In another recent study of 800 employers, 94% reported that productivity held steady or increased during the pandemic. Why could this be? It seems that having more freedom motivates employees to do better work. Workplace autonomy and flexibility is now a competitive advantage for companies that offer it. Companies can also save a lot of money by leasing smaller offices or allowing employees to rent their own workspace.

Is 9-5 a Thing of the Past?

What it Means to have Real Work Autonomy

Here we will discuss why empowering your employees is usually more effective than trying to control them, how you can promote autonomy in your work environment, and what benefits you can expect to reap from making such a shift.

With more employees working from home or in virtual office spaces during the pandemic, we have seen that this idea holds true. In another recent study of 800 employers, 94% reported that productivity held steady or increased during the pandemic. Why could this be? It seems that having more freedom motivates employees to do better work. Workplace autonomy and flexibility is now a competitive advantage for companies that offer it. Companies can also save a lot of money by leasing smaller offices or allowing employees to rent their own workspace.

Here we will discuss why empowering your employees is usually more effective than trying to control them, how you can promote autonomy in your work environment, and what benefits you can expect to reap from making such a shift.

What Does Autonomy Mean in the Workplace?

Autonomy in the workplace is not about letting employees do whatever they want whenever they want. It's also not having them work in isolation or without guidance, boundaries, supervision, or collaboration. Workplace autonomy is about allowing people to work the way that is most conducive to their best performance. Promoting autonomy means empowering employees to take initiative, giving them stewardship over their work and environment, and providing support instead of exerting control. Most often, when employees feel like they are trusted, they're more likely to perform better. An autonomous work environment is built upon trust, respect, integrity, and a culture of accountability, not one of fear. For example, instead of imposing strict work schedules on employees and threatening repercussions for failing to stick to them, give employees tasks and due dates, and allow them to complete it however is best for them within that timeline.

Work autonomy can also mean allowing employees to choose where they work. For some, that will still be the company office. But for many people, the right mix might include the company office, home, coworking spaces, libraries, and coffee shops. If management can set specific, shared goals and provide employees with the support and freedom they need, work autonomy will benefit individuals and the company as a whole.

What Are the Benefits of Employee Autonomy?

Increased Feelings of Empowerment and Loyalty

Giving employees the flexibility they need can help them feel valued and accountable for the tasks they are put in charge of. When workers have unrestricted access to training portals and cross-training, they will feel empowered in their roles and growth opportunities. When they feel they are trusted, they are also more likely to remain loyal to their employer

Improved Productivity and Reduced Labor Costs

While it may seem that it would be more efficient to control employees' behavior and work methods, it's often more constructive to allow more freedom and simply offer constructive feedback where it is needed. Micromanaging wastes time and slows employees down at their respective tasks. Increasing autonomy stretches labor dollars and allows managers to focus on more lucrative and essential tasks.

Increased Job Satisfaction

When employees are able to create their own schedules or set their own goals, they may feel more content with their jobs. Giving employees freedom in these areas allows them to control their work/life balance, which is a huge factor for reducing stress and improving overall well-being. Greater job satisfaction levels can also reduce turnover and foster a more desirable culture within the company.

Improved Workplace Adaptability

Workplace autonomy benefits the individual in many ways, but it also helps the office as a whole. Every worker has their own unique way of solving problems and completing tasks, and when you allow each person to employ and share those methods, it opens up a wide range of solutions that strengthen the workplace. By fostering this diversity in thought and strategy, the workplace becomes more adaptable and prosperous.

Potential Impact on Customer Relationships

Most customers appreciate sincerity in their transactions, so allowing employees to have more creative freedom in their customer interactions can help establish bonds with customers that may otherwise not have formed.

Simplified Succession Planning

When employees are permitted to learn at their own pace and encouraged to work autonomously, the leaders among the group will naturally emerge. In this environment, workers may also exhibit traits that help you recognize potential positions for them that may not have been as obvious in a more structured, micromanaged workplace. Succession planning becomes much easier when employees can exhibit an unrestricted range of strengths and skills.

How to Implement Autonomy in Your Workplace

Here are some ideas to transform your workplace into an autonomous one:

  • Trust your workers: Chances are, you hired your employees because they demonstrated qualities that made you feel you could trust them. If you exercise that trust after they are hired and trained, you may be surprised how well they perform when given that autonomy.
  • Let employees make mistakes: Breathing down someone's neck doesn't keep them from making mistakes. It actually might cause them to make more. No employee is perfect, and that's okay. Mistakes are the way we learn, but how you handle them as a manager determines whether they become fearful and resentful at work or learn from the mistake and improve. Instead of reacting angrily, communicate to figure out what went wrong, and discuss how to prevent it in the future. Doing this can turn a negative situation into a learning experience for both of you.
  • Equip employees with the best tools: You can't expect employees to produce their best work without investing in the tools required to do so. One of the keys to autonomy is giving employees everything they need to succeed independently, whether it be training resources, software programs, office supplies, or support from management.
  • Ask for employee feedback: A quick and easy way to increase autonomy in the workplace is to ask employees what you can do to make it that way. Send out employee satisfaction surveys to gather their opinions and try to implement the feedback you get.
  • Allow ownership: When your employees feel like they own a part of a project, they will naturally feel more motivated to do their best work. Try to give people tasks that best suit their skill sets, so they're motivated to use their expertise to go above and beyond.

More Freedom Requires More Planning

Work autonomy can be successful if management has set a good foundation, which includes:

  • A clear company mission and purpose for each employee
  • A shared, specific set of priorities
  • Coaching and guidance from management
  • A universal approach to planning, prioritizing and evaluating work
  • Technology to work efficiently, collaboratively, and securely as a team

None of these things have anything to do with the physical location where work is done. But every one of them is fundamental to business success. During the pandemic, employees have proven that, in general, they are trustworthy and capable of producing results when given the freedom to work in a way that best suits them. As you implement these strategies to increase work autonomy, your employees be happier, you'll have a healthier and more functional work environment, and you'll see a stronger work output that improves your bottom line.

Work Autonomy with Affordable Coworking Space

If you are in Youngstown, Mahoning County, or Trumball county, you can increase your employees' work autonomy with an affordable coworking space or a conference room at My Office 985. Contact us for more information or book a space today!

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Warren, Ohio 44481

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My Office 985 offers convenient and professional temporary to permanent office space rental for business professionals in Trumbull, Mahoning, and Columbiana Counties. Featuring a quiet, flexible workspace, access to wifi, a conference room, free coffee, and so much more, My Office 985 is the ideal space to match any business professional's unique needs without the hefty price attached to most rental spaces. Host your most important clients in one of our clean, friendly, inviting spaces today!

My Office 985 Locations

LIBERTY, OHIO

985 Churchill Hubbard
Youngstown, OH 44505

WARREN, OHIO

345 High St NE,
Warren, Ohio 44481

330-718-0166

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