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Freedom and Responsibility - Can These Two Sit Together Comfortably in the Workplace?

April 24, 2017 | 5.5 min read
“Every right implies a responsibility, every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.” – John D. Rockefeller

Can these two sit together comfortably in the workplace?

In a conversation once with my grandfather, he recalled his early days when he first started work in the factory where he was compelled to “clock in” and “clock out”. Production targets were set; when the targets were reached, that was “Job done”. Monitoring and control of the workforce to target productivity? I thought to myself, how lucky I am; how times have changed! Of course, many businesses still retain this age-old system to monitor their workforce. But how effective is this practice?

The way we define work is constantly changing. These days younger people appear to have quite high expectations for learning, development, transparency, and flexibility in their careers. Providing them with the freedom to manage much of their own work and to determine when and where they do that work is fundamental to their satisfaction and productivity. I believe that as a direct result of this, more companies are focusing on employee autonomy as they integrate their working lives with their home environment. However, with this newfound freedom comes the associated responsibility. Of course, there’s a difference between having freedom and knowing what to do with it.

It seems that there is much debate about whether giving staff more freedom can significantly improve productivity. However, can we measure effectively individual staff productivity and performance? Does the absence of rules make for a more efficient and happier work environment? In many companies, freedom in the workplace can mean the ability to keep non-traditional hours, work from home, take unlimited holidays, exercise creativity in how to approach immediate job goals, or otherwise.

There is mounting evidence that suggests that employees who exercise autonomy regularly at work are happier and more productive. So am I happy? Yes, I am happy because I can see the fruits of this clearly thought-through, far-reaching long-term policy approach. The right staff in the right role may transform a department when their ability to act on their intuition and creativity is unleashed. I believe that people today require fulfillment and job satisfaction; something to look forward to doing when they get up in the morning. I certainly do! Can you say that? All people are different. Some do their best work in the early morning. Some prefer to grind it out on the weekends or in the wee small hours of the morning. Having a choice in deciding when you will do your best work is extremely empowering.

However, does a company of talented people who are clever and motivated require rules and regulations to guide them through their day? Simplity prides itself on having achieved the seemingly impossible task. It has assembled a thoroughly motivated workforce of the highest caliber, granting its staff a liberal combination of freedom with responsibility.

I believe that Simplity gets the best out of its employees; to help them get the most out of their jobs it’s not enough to just empower or engage them. Simplity makes sure that their people accept responsibility for the work they do. When things go well, then they get the credit. But when things don’t go well, then they must learn to accept responsibility for these outcomes too. I think it’s time for everyone to take a good look at their actions and ask themselves, “Have I truly taken responsibility for my actions? Have I done all I can?” Giving employees room to reach their objectives in the ways they see fit can be seen as a solid leadership move when conducted under the right circumstances.

But as challenging as it can be to define what exactly freedom means, it can be equally challenging, and somewhat paradoxical, to define its boundaries.

I am fortunate to work with responsible people who can manage their working freedom responsibly. This has engendered a culture in which colleagues can live and work together in a progressive working environment that is tailor-made to fit their personalities and to encourage the extension of their passions and virtues. It can be clearly demonstrated that this liberal thinking in the workplace which Simplity has created, has attracted great people with great talents. These dedicated professionals have passion for their products, in a physical environment where planning and purpose have led to the generation of great performance, promoting great productivity and ultimately leading to great client satisfaction.