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Forget flexibility. Your employees want autonomy.

October 31, 2021
Borderless Leadership

As far as buzzwords go, “flexibility” is now rivaled in prominence only by the novel work model it is so often used to describe: hybrid work. Together, these words have taken over the way we speak about the future of work and constitute a whole series of new ways to think about the further integration of work and life.

But as typically happens with buzzwords, many different interpretations of flexibility are beginning to arise. For some, it means “the ability to connect and get work done from anywhere,” while to others it means “we’ll let you work from home a couple times a week.” As we’re beginning to find out, however, no one of these definitions is exactly what employees mean when they say they want flexibility. What it seems they really want is autonomy. Within the context of hybrid work, this means having the ability to be the primary decision-maker of where and when they do their work.

For leaders to facilitate flexibility and succeed in hybrid work, enabling employee autonomy will be paramount.

Employees Want Flexibility by Way of Autonomy
In our new hybrid working study, we asked over 5,000 knowledge workers around the world what they wanted from the future of their work arrangement. 59% of respondents reported that “flexibility” is more important to them than salary or other benefits, and 77% said they would prefer to work for a company that gives them the flexibility to work from anywhere rather than fancy corporate headquarters.

However, with 61% of employees reporting that they would prefer if management allowed team members to come into the office when they need to and work from home when they need to, our data also shows that the flexibility they want is conditional upon their ability to exercise it in a way that best fits them. In other words, it’s conditional upon autonomy. READ MORE

by Holger Reisinger and Dane Fetterer

Source: HBR.org

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