The 4 Pillars to Creating a Culture of Freedom
Can SmartWorking can give companies a competitive edge? Of course it can! Our returning guest blogger Oliver Lee shares the four pillars companies need to build trust and a culture of freedom.
(Image by: Helena Lopes)
Let’s face it, the 9-5 working week is dying. The days where people were scolded for arriving at 09.07 are in the past. In fact, we’re now in a world where 70% of the world’s workers, work remotely at least once a week. This means companies need to adopt a new type of work culture. A culture that prioritises creativity, output and flexibility, instead of process, holiday allocations and arrival times. In many ways, this new culture is one of freedom, and when adopted well, a culture of freedom can actually deliver a competitive edge to your business too.
So, how can you create this type of culture in your business?
Well, in my experience, a true culture of freedom has 4 key pillars.
PILLAR #1 : BOUNDARIES
The first thing that a culture of freedom needs are clear boundaries. This may sound strange, but without boundaries, freedom can be daunting and confusing. People need to know what they are being tasked to achieve, and what their main roles and responsibilities are. To help with this process, make sure your teams know the answer to questions such as, “What is the number one result I’m trying to achieve?”
Once they know the answer to this, and you are both aligned on this answer, then how they achieve that outcome is 100% down to them. However, without those boundaries in the first place, you run the risk of creating a team that is busy doing all the wrong things.
PILLAR #2 : INDIVIDUALITY
The next pillar is more of a mindset than anything else. It’s the understanding that everyone is different, with different personalities and different preferences. This means that they all work best under different conditions – and this is where the culture of freedom comes into its own. It allows you, as a leader, to create the ideal working conditions for each of your team individually. If Susan, your Head of Design, needs to work from home every Monday and Thursday, then that’s fine. If Ryan, your Chief Copywriter, needs to lock himself in the local coffee shop to create those killer headlines, then let him go for it. The point here is, in today’s world, one size doesn’t fit all, and that’s completely alright!
Of course, there will be times when you need the whole team to come together to work, or meet. Ideally, this can be done face-to-face. However, even if it can’t, there are so many fantastic video conferencing tools available, that this will never be an issue any more.
PILLAR #3 : RECOGNITION
One of the biggest risks when creating a culture of freedom is that your teams could become detached from the world and disengaged. Here’s a big secret for you… The key driver that creates engagement is recognition. Trying to generate engagement in your teams without recognition is like trying to drive a car on fumes – even if it starts, it will soon grind to a halt.
Therefore, when creating your culture of freedom, make sure you pay close attention to the work your team is creating. When you see something brilliant then recognise it, and not just to that person. Send an email around to the entire team telling everyone about it and how much value that work has added to the company. Once you do this regularly, you will create a team of highly engaged people that all know exactly what is expected of them.
PILLAR #4 : ACCOUNTABILITY
Freedom without accountability can be dangerous, and will lead to a lack of good quality output. That’s why it’s crucial to create a culture of freedom where people take pride in their work and are always eager to deliver. One way to create this level of accountability is to lead by example. Show your team that the buck stops with you, and that you take ownership of your most important tasks. Another key to creating accountability is to be careful not to punish mistakes. When you come down hard on your team when things go wrong, they will begin to retreat into their shell, and won’t take ownership. When a mistake happens, see the good in it and talk about how to avoid it from happening again.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
The business world is changing. The new world is one where people need freedom and flexibility to truly integrate their work into their busy lives. According to a recent Powwownow survey, 56% of people think that “managers need to adapt their skills to manage a remote workforce”. This percentage is only going to increase as more Gen Z workers enter the world of business. So, the next time you enter the office, pay special attention to the culture you observe. If you see people that are happy and focussed on creating great work at any time of day, then you have nothing to worry about. If you see a group of people that are watching the clock and tutting when someone walks in at 09.07, you may need to make a change.
Guest Blogger Bio:
Oliver Lee is a leadership blogger who believes all leaders have a golden opportunity. The opportunity to fill their teams’ days with happiness, fun and purpose.
You can follow Oliver and his wonderful weekly updates on LinkedIn here: