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To Win, Organizations Need to Allow People to Feel Free
December 18,2020 [ by Larry Chao ] 255 Read and 0 Comment

2020 has taught us that personal freedom is vital to our happiness. If companies consider this, they can create productive, healthy work cultures that inspire & retain the best people.

This pandemic has confirmed one human desire: Personal freedom is vital. Most of us at one time or another this year have felt as if we were in jail or under occupation. We survived, but after a while, it became stressful and we began to suffer from “cabin fever.”

Here in Bangkok when the lockdown was lifted, people flocked to resorts outside of the City, just to escape the feeling of confinement and to feel free. With this feeling of freedom came a sense of greater control over our lives, instead of feeling forced to do something against our will.

As organizations transition from crisis to recovery mode, it is wise to think about personal freedom when we start planning the workplace of the future and how we re-energize and re-engage our people.

For example, what is the right balance between work from home and working in the office? On the surface, the option of working from home does seem to offer people greater control and freedom, but I wonder how many people felt that way during the lockdown? Many I have spoken with felt even more confined and worked even harder during lockdown, as the boundary between work and personal life blurred, and weekdays and weekends became one.

Another example is how we manage our people and teams. The crisis taught us that we can share objectives and guidelines with our teams and then let them get on with execution without micromanaging them. How can we institutionalize a work culture that offers this greater freedom and empowerment for teams and individuals to act?

And how about freedom of expression and individuality? Compare office dress codes today versus 20 years ago and you can see the trend: People want to express themselves as individuals and not be categorized or forced to behave a certain way to fit in. The need for people to feel free and to be authentic is a trend that will not end when the crisis is over.

As organizations gradually return to normal and reshape the way they are run, one of the most important principles to follow is, how do we create a productive work environment that offers people the greatest opportunities to be free? For companies that address this challenge, it is going to be an exciting, fruitful year.

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