One of the most satisfying things for me to see as a leader is when one of my team members takes on a task and owns it. I know collaboration and remote work have been the workplace buzzwords for a while, but I see a shift. People really thrive when they feel like they are respected and trusted to get the work accomplished. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our new workplace culture and what it is going to look like this year and in the next decade.
I expect autonomy will be one of those buzzwords in the new decade. In the sense of the workplace, autonomy does not mean that a worker is completely unsupervised to do whatever they want. It does not mean completely working alone. They are still part of the team.
What it should mean, in a workforce sense, is we as leaders allow people to be self-directing. We give them a little bit of freedom to try new things, to govern their actions, and to feel empowered in their decision-making.
No one likes feeling like they are just another cog in a wheel. That's when you end up with a cubicle city and a high turnover rate.
Sure, there may be some people who like to have a little bit more direction than others. Overall, most people don't enjoy their every action being micromanaged. They like feeling like they have some freedom to make some of their own choices.
In an autonomous workplace, leaders set the boundaries on what the employee can and can't do, where they can and can't make major decisions, and then we allow them the freedom to work within that framework.
This could be something like they’re designing your next digital marketing campaign. They have the company's branding framework to design the product within, but they have the ability to work on it alone and get creative with the copy and images. They can take their product to a team member for feedback. Maybe you have a weekly check-in to evaluate their progress and give suggestions for what to change.
When employees feel like they're actually being heard, how they feel about where they work is generally positive. It makes them feel like they are a respected member of the team.
This is about creating a culture of transparency. People should feel like they can share information. This could be sharing what the front line sales team is hearing about the product or maybe just feedback on the company culture to human resources. People need to feel like they have an avenue to share what matters to them.
To make this happen, first, there have to be protections in place that promote honest communication. There shouldn't be penalties for people speaking their truth when they’re being sincere and respectful.
Second, we have to figure out the right channels to collaborate and communicate information. Forget about the paper suggestion box. Since more work is remote, we're going to be seeing the use of technology to allow employees to efficiently communicate with each other.
As we've mentioned, more people are working remotely than ever before. Laura Briggs, in her TEDx talk, said that 35% of the US Workforce was freelancing in some capacity during the year.
So as our companies continue to employ more and more mobile workers, we're going to need the right tools to keep them productive and organized. We're talking about people using things like Asana, Trello, Podio, Slack, and other ways to communicate between separated teams.
We also need to find ways to make these people feel like they are part of our larger team. Having face-to-face chats or even phone calls goes a long way to making them feel like they belong to a greater company.
One of the most exciting innovations in the workforce is how much we can now give to computers to do. We're getting rid of more busy work thanks to AI technology. Who wants to hire someone just to handle data entry? In the modern workforce, this is a waste of money and resources.
We're also using technology to make things easier. There are so many tools specific-built for CRE that streamline the work, that we can really focus on solving more complex problems inside of our industry.
Look at it this way, employees are your most valuable resource. Using automated technology programs is going to help them perform better, do more interesting work, and be more productive for your business. Who doesn't like that?
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