Studies have shown what workers have known for a long time – more autonomy at work leads to higher job satisfaction and greater productivity. It’s even more important to a lot of workers than money. Even though autonomy is so highly valued, and beneficial, it’s still something that eludes a lot of employees.
Thankfully, there are ways to gain more autonomy at work. Here are a few tips:
1. Claim your independence
Chances are you have access to more autonomy than you realize. Be on the lookout for ways to exercise it. For example, do you ask for approval from your manager before moving to the next step of a project? Is this mandated or is it something you can skip? Do you need to meet with your team as often as you do? Can you cut back on meetings and face-to-face time a little? You might be surprised to learn that you aren’t the only one who enjoys the changes. Your coworkers, and your manager, might be really happy to be a little more autonomous, too.
2. Get out of the office
These days, more workers have flexible arrangements with their employer. Nearly 90 percent of HR professionals say that over the next five years, flexible work options will continue to expand. Consider talking with your boss about making a change. You’ll feel more independent if you’re given more time and space to work from home.
3. Consider a different job type
Some jobs are definitely more conducive to working in an autonomous way than others. If this is really something that’s important to you, consider going into one of the fields that naturally lend themselves to increased autonomy. Jobs in engineering and project management, for example, often have flexible or telecommuting opportunities.
4. Go freelance
One benefit of working freelance is that there is a good deal of autonomy. You won’t have a boss looking over your shoulder every day or setting your deadlines. If you’re self-motivated and enjoy working independently, freelance or contract work might be a great avenue to explore. Just keep in mind that you’ll still have clients to answer to – in the world of work, few people are ever really totally independent.
5. Have a talk with your boss
If you enjoy your job but want more autonomy, you might want to consider having a conversation with your boss about how you’re feeling. Explain that you know that you do your best work when you’re more loosely supervised. Work together to come up with a schedule that involves check-ins as well as periods designated for more independent progress. Keep in mind that these kinds of conversations are easier if you’ve already established a reputation for excellence with the higher-ups. If not, you might want to pay your dues for just a little while longer before going this route.
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