Feeling happy at work is undoubtedly something strive for. The feeling of enjoying your work, of being purposeful but not overworked and stressed.  Feeling trusted to complete your tasks. Not being micromanaged but enjoying the freedom to complete work in a way which suits you.  In other words, autonomy.  If you have autonomy at work, the chances are that your workplace happiness is far greater than someone who doesn’t have autonomy. 

 What does it mean?  

Our overall wellbeing is significantly impacted by our experiences at work and how good we feel about our working environment. As we discussed in our last blog, flexible working approaches can really help improve our wellbeing at work. But, in order to achieve these things, we first need autonomy – the choice in how we do things.  An article published by the Harvard Business Review in October 2021 states “Autonomy is a key driver of human motivation, performance and fulfilment”.  If we want to achieve fully flexible working, we need to embrace autonomy.   

Embracing this way of working can feel somewhat challenging, at least initially.  For a very long time, workplace culture has been far more rigid, and whilst the idea that such a structured way of working doesn’t get better results is becoming more readily accepted, actually adjusting to that way of working can be difficult, for organisations and employees alike.  

What autonomy looks like and means for each organisation will differ, but it’s all about understanding each individual employee's needs and strengths and adapting the workplace to suit. This helps everyone to work to the best of their ability to achieve the desired outcomes. 

 How can you increase your autonomy at work? 

 As an employee, there are a few ways you can boost your autonomy.    

  • Clarify your goals and expectations - It’s important that you, your colleagues and the wider organisation know where they stand.  
  • Get involved with timeframes and schedules, ideally setting them for yourself.  
  • Make choices about how you work, and when you work, as best you can.  It can be tricky, if this is limited by your workplace.  If so, it may be worth discussing what options are available to you with your manager or HR department. 

The more control you have over how and when you work, the better your sense of wellbeing will be. The benefit won’t just be felt by you, your employers will benefit from a happier, more motivated and more productive employee.

Need some more inspiration for improving your happiness at work? Why not take a look at our workplace motivation blog?