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The self-determined employee

Rigid working hours and strict performance controls in the workplace are a thing of the past. The modern employee is self-determined and flexible. Many employers are still reluctant to adopt this working model. Yet it is not only the employee who benefits, but also the employer, because flexible working promises balance in life and productivity at work.

What does self-determined working mean?

Before this question can be answered, it should first be clarified what "self-determination" actually means. The definition in the Duden dictionary reads: self-determination is the "independence of the individual from any kind of external control". It is associated with "autonomy", "personal responsibility" and "freedom".

So does this mean that a self-determined employee is someone who only does the tasks they have chosen for themselves and is not subject to any external control?

Self-determination at work can be interpreted in different ways, and some people may think directly of freelancers and the self-employed. They are self-determined because they don't have to follow a boss or a direct task. But that's not quite true - after all, the tasks they take on are usually still characterized by requirements, guidelines and deadlines. Nevertheless, they have the freedom to determine their tasks and employers themselves.

But does self-determined work also automatically mean that employees may not accept demands because they do not want to be led by others? Does this mean that companies equate self-determined work with a refusal to work and chaos?

No, because self-determination does not mean ruthlessness. As communal beings, we have a strong need for harmony and strive for a friendly working atmosphere. As a rule, we are not only interested in our own needs.

Basically, self-determined work means more responsibility, more freedom to organize our time and a free choice of workplace.

Win-win situation

Everyone feels the need for freedom, even at work. Working hours are increasing and breaks are shrinking more and more these days - resulting in billions of euros in losses due to incapacity to work.

This problem can be minimized through motivational measures, including self-determined working: Through comprehensible working hours, identifiable company goals, a high level of transparency and, above all, freedom and co-determination rights.

Self-determined working is one thing above all: a motivation driver. The more motivated employees are, the more productive they are and the higher the quality of the work performed. Self-determined working therefore benefits not only employees, but also employers.

Tips for self-determined working

First of all, a good basis should be created in the workplace. There should be a transparent, open relationship between the employees and also with the management position, in which all opinions are initially accepted and can then be discussed. This trust is essential for creating a pleasant working environment and establishing suitable framework conditions. Employees' freedoms should be defined and clarified from the outset. Self-determined employees want freedom and, of course, the right to make their own decisions or at least to be part of the decision-making process. This applies both to the work itself and to the framework within which the task is to be completed.

A first step towards self-determined work is flexible working hours and the right to co-determination regarding one's own shifts. A company should also consider whether it is possible to set up flexible work locations so that employees can also work independently from home and on the move, resulting in successful work-life integration.

Last but not least, it can be said that self-determined working is not right for everyone and it is therefore important for employers not to force their own employees into this working model. While many people enjoy the freedom of self-determination and are driven by it, for others it also means a lot of uncertainty and could slow them down in their performance. Some prefer clear structures and a fixed guideline and contact person that they can always reach for. It is therefore advisable to let each employee test out this way of working, but still give them the choice to choose the working model that suits them best.

At shyftplan, we believe in self-determined and flexible working. That's why we promote employee self-determination by allowing them to be involved in many staff scheduling processes right from the start. The core functions of our software include duty scheduling, time recording, absence planning as well as the time account and evaluations.