It is a great privilege to have the freedom to make choices. From the smaller decisions about what to have for breakfast to more pivotal moments such as deciding on a subject for study or which job offer to accept; the outcomes associated with a particular choice are always relative to the individual. One may choose to skip breakfast with little negative impact whilst another may suffer from extreme fatigue and low energy. However, this is the very reason why choice holds so much power.
Choices can allow you to create the optimal conditions for yourself can facilitate being more productive, more comfortable, more engaged, more creative, and healthier. The power behind granting individuals the ability to choose the conditions best suited to them has become more widely recognised within the workplace. Following the pandemic, many organisations have opted for a hybrid approach, allowing employees to choose which days they would like to work from the office.
Many studies compare productivity levels when working from home and from working in the office. While many headlines report on the suggested increases in productivity in those working from home, it is important to recognise that many studies also report employees finding it more difficult to focus and that some do not enjoy working from home.
One study found that productivity fell for 30.2% of respondents and 21% of respondents said that they never want to work from home. Therefore, we can hypothesise that it is not simply staff working from home that facilitates an increase in productivity but that it is more importantly giving those who prefer to work from home the choice to do so, and those who work best in the office the choice to attend work.
The choices we get to make about working can go far beyond working from home. Flexible working, allowing us to choose when we work can increase engagement. Although many roles have particular responsibilities which are non-negotiable, research shows that motivation and job satisfaction are higher when employees are able to choose certain tasks and have the freedom to explore new challenges.
This has also been linked to being less likely to experience burn out. Some of us may also have the choice to move to different locations throughout the day. Research shows that a change of location can significantly enhance creativity and actions as simple as a short walk can increase focus.
Additionally, many of us naturally have different colleagues who we would choose to work with in different situations, depending on their approach, knowledge and skills. Developing open channels of communication is key to empowering others to feel they have the freedom to make choices in who they approach and work with. Finally, we can also create choices in how we work. Do you prefer making notes with pen and paper? Do you close down your computer whilst your on your break? Do you like to always have a to do list by your side? There are many choices your colleagues may make that would not suit your style of working which really shows how these small decisions can still have a huge impact.
Overall, choice allows you to feel valued and trusted, giving you a sense of ownership and control over your work. This leads to higher levels of engagement, motivation and productivity and can reduce the likelihood of burnout.
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