Moving to a new way of working part 2: Functioning with Autonomy

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In this three-part article series, we discuss the essential qualities businesses must have when transitioning to a new way of working. 

We are entering into a new era of work, one resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. 

The crisis, which forced many of us to work remotely for extended periods of time, has brought business leaders the opportunity to re-evaluate the way their company functions and learn business can actually operate efficiently outside of physical office space. 

Adopting a new culture of work outside the one that has been traditional in Japan for decades has caused business leaders to question how to best trust their employees to remain productive.

I think an essential quality in this new company culture is embracing autonomy. 


Autonomy is giving your employees the power to make decisions based on their own knowledge and inclinations.
It means they don’t need to request constant permission to move their projects or responsibilities forward. 

If your team was used to working autonomously before the COVID-19 crisis, the shift to remote work was likely smooth. Employees could carry on with daily tasks independently. 

However, for a team that was accustomed to rigorous approval processes and the inability to make solo decisions, being physically separated from their boss would have slowed all their work down. Sometimes too much oversight from management, especially when a team is working remotely, can make employees less productive and less efficient at their day-to-day jobs.

It’s never too late for a business to start incorporating more autonomy. 

Daniel Pink, a best-selling author who investigates human behavior and business, believes autonomy is a crucial factor in self-motivation. According to Pink’s 2009 book, Motivation 3.0, autonomy is a component of the ‘Trifecta of Motivation’ alongside mastery and purpose. 



When employees have the autonomy to make their own decisions on certain things, like when or how a task gets done, they become more creative and operate at their best. They also feel more in control of the work they are doing. Giving more control with autonomy signals to employees that you trust them and their decisions. This results in happier work culture and more employee satisfaction.


Cameron Brett
Managing Director
Randstad Professionals & Engineers


previous post

Moving to a new way  of working part 1: The importance of being results-oriented