How to Create Autonomy in the Workplace?

Sunny Samanta

1st Apr'21

“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do.” – Steve Jobs


For long people have been used to working under a governed state. It is what, essentially, led to the creation of managers and now even micromanagers at workplaces. But something about what Steve Jobs once said (Above in quote) in one of Apple’s conventions does hit the chord with the increasing belief that employees must be provided some autonomy in their workplaces. Add to this, the alarming talks being discussed, more openly, in the workplace induced stress, anxiety, and other mental illnesses; many people are now voicing their support for autonomy in workplaces.

But what is autonomy in the workplace, and how can companies and leaders create autonomy in the workplace are the question here that should matter. This is because a lot of people/employees are still not aware of workplace autonomy. However, with this article, you can not learn about workplace autonomy but also about possible ways to create autonomy in the workplace.


workplace autonomy


What is Workplace Autonomy?

Human beings are naturally autonomous creatures as they prefer to have autonomy in the ways they work, live, and play. Here, autonomy can be defined as the Self Determination Theory (SDT) meaning having control over their actions and experiences. However, workplaces are known to be full of rules, time schedules, policies, and guidelines to follow and this plays hindrance to the autonomous nature of the employee. As a result, most employees often end up being unhappy, stressed, and perform under their potential efficiency, causing a lot of friction between themselves and the company that is evident from the various researches done on the lack of workplace autonomy.

However, with the recent ROWEs (Results – Only Work Environments) strategy, people have seen an uprising caused by allowing the employee to be more work oriented than putting in hours. This has resulted in many places curving the conventional 9-5 workplace schedule and even limiting the working days to only 4 in a week. Therefore, workplace autonomy can be defined as the freedom and independence of employees to be more themselves in their workplaces as well to benefit both the employee and the company simultaneously.


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Why is Workplace Autonomy Important?

Workplace autonomy is vital for an organization or company as it has huge potential to boost their survival chances and rate of success. Besides, workplace autonomy contributes to a lot of important aspects and factors that are essential for creating a more suitable work environment such as employee engagement and trustworthiness.



Employees who have more independence and freedom in their work related decisions and choices are known to be happier, more committed, and productive in their respective roles. This is because they tend to develop a more sense of engagement with the organization they are working for. Hence, companies and leaders should be courageous enough to go about telling their employees about their day-to-day work and leave them with the strategic choices that they want to implement in doing their work.



Lack of trust in the workplace is a playground for children with insecurities. This is why most leaders in an organization keenly advocate and try to develop a sense of trust with their teammates or employees. They do so as they understand that having the trust of their employees can swing any unfavorable situation faced by the situation in their favor eventually. And what’s the better way to develop that trust with your employees than by providing them a workplace autonomy, right? Workplace autonomy has the power to instantly win over the employee's trust as they will be more satisfied in the way they are taken care of in their workplaces.


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Creating Workplace Autonomy

While workplace autonomy is the possible way to go about in workplaces, it is important to balance the aspects of it. This is because you wouldn’t want your employees to have complete free reign in your organization where they can come and leave as they please. So, to create workplace autonomy you can either take up a managerial approach or have a simple system concentrating more on the following aspects:


Offer Varying Degrees of Freedom

As a leader, you must convey the message amongst your employees loud and clear that freedom and independence always come at a cost. So, you can start with providing them some flexibility in their working hours initially and grant them more flexibility as they prove their worth over time. This act can even be crucial in relationships and trust-building strategies in an organization.


Empower your Employee

As the quote by the iconic Steve Jobs above states, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do.” As a leader, you should always look to empower your employees whenever they are showing potential. This includes them making good decisions and coming up with good strategic planning. So, support them in providing tools and requirements they may have to get the job done as it will contribute towards commitment, loyalty, passion, and trust towards the company or the organization.


Establishing Accountability

It is natural that when we are assigned with work, we are held accountable for its outcome. However, in workplaces, it is often a topic of discussion where one person is said to have stolen another's credit for their hard work. This can certainly leave an employee with a detrimental effect causing them to put less effort and care less about the company’s success and be more about just doing their work daily with a lack of enthusiasm and interest.

However, when you let them know they will alone be responsible for the outcome of their work, you are establishing an added sense of accountability in them. As a result, they will be aware of the fact that they will be equally responsible and deserving of the praise and criticism that comes with it.


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A lone wolf by definition, a writer by heart, and a lost star with ambitions to light up the dark both inside and around me, sometimes by immersing myself into books or video games or traveling with a backpack to an uncertain destination believing that life is all about the choices we make and we don't.


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