Tuesday, November 25, 2014



Workplaces worldwide are in a state of flux. Employees are clamoring for empowerment and freedom while managements are struggling to keep a balance between discipline and workplace rights. All the time, management control is imperative for productivity and profitability.

Workplace research has revealed that workers who feel they are free to make choices in the workplace, and be held accountable for them, are happier and more productive than employees who are more restricted. The problem, however, is that there is no universal cross-cultural and trans-national definition of autonomy.

However with the workplace constantly evolving and globalization increasingly important, cross-cultural research into workplace autonomy is more important than ever. Freedom for employees changes from one context to another, and has to be carefully defined to prevent abuse.

There is nothing that makes one happier than the sense of freedom. The freedom to flex your work hours to accommodate family life while still meeting organisational goals; freedom to air new ideas and opposing viewpoints with the management; freedom to do things differently, freedom to have a healthy work-life balance.

In the Middle East, however where managements deal with an expatriate workforce, employee freedom and flexibility has to be subject to certain checks and balances.

Global search giants Google for example offers a casual and easy work culture for its employees. The Google office reveals a colourful ambience--furniture and game boards--creating a fun atmosphere.

This environment of freedom is nurtured by a group of very smart people who are self-motivated, passionate to come out with innovative products which have a bearing on peoples' lives. Google has provided an environment without hierarchy and restriction, thereby giving abundant freedom to the employees. It has placed ideas above hierarchy and tried to make it easy for Googlers to make things happen. It's not uncommon for one person's interesting idea to grow to a larger, even company-wide, initiative.

While the walk to freedom has never been easy, workplaces are no longer "sweat shops", it's important to define employee freedom in different contexts and implement them for better profitability.



  • Workplaces are no longer sweatshops
  • Employees perform better when they are given options
  • It is important to balance discipline with worker rights

Debasree Banerjee is the Corporate Communications Manager of Blue Ocean Academy.