The Value in Flexibility: How autonomy and accountability provide the best work environment

No one likes to be micromanaged at work. Not only does having a boss constantly looking over your shoulder cause frustration, but it also damages leadership trust in the workplace. That’s why autonomy at work is so important.

Autonomy in the workplace means giving employees the freedom to work in a way that suits them. Over the past couple years, companies and employees have been able to start practicing this, especially with so many people working remotely part time or fully. 

When working remotely, autonomy is engaged to a certain point, and employees get to decide how and when their work should be done to some extent. However, autonomy needs to be carried through to the office to help foster a flexible and empowering workflow from home to office. 

What is autonomy in the workplace?

Autonomy at work refers to how much freedom employees have to do their jobs. Specifically, it relates to the pace at which work is completed, its order of completion, and a person’s freedom to work without micromanagement.

Sometimes rules stifle creative thinking and create unneeded performance pressure. If giving freedom sounds potentially chaotic, let’s look at the situation from a different angle. 

Increased workplace autonomy embraces the concept that not everyone is the same. They don’t work at the same pace, they don’t respond to the same incentives or guidelines, and they don’t compartmentalize their flow in the same way. And just because they don’t all have the same approach, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are doing their job incorrectly. Trust is given to each employee based on the notion that they will get the job done. 

Job autonomy is defined by working toward a set goal. How employees reach that goal may be open, with certain timelines in place – the employee won’t just be answering to themselves. They will also have to answer to their workplace team they have let down.

Why is autonomy in the workplace important?

A workforce feels less pressured and more confident when given autonomy. Here are some of the benefits:

  1. Increases job satisfaction

Some companies struggle to increase job satisfaction because they take the wrong approach. They often overlook removing strict predetermined rules. The simple act of granting employees autonomy increases job satisfaction. 

  1. Creates employee engagement and motivation

Workplace engagement and work motivation naturally increase when team members have to make their own decisions. Learning a set of strict rules and sticking to them is a tedious way to work. This is even more true when employees are punished for deviating from the rules.

  1. Improves employee retention

Increased job autonomy results in happier employees. Happy employees do not feel the need to seek out other work. Job turnover is, therefore, significantly reduced, saving time and effort in recruitment and onboarding.

  1. Encourages creativity and innovation

Free thinking people come up with unique and creative solutions. In turn, this gives rise to innovation.

  1. Builds a culture of trust

A workforce based around trust works efficiently, thereby boosting productivity. When employees understand that they’re trusted to achieve tasks, that same trust is extended back to leaders. The resulting workplace culture of mutual trust is a setting for true innovation.

  1. Boosts productivity

An employee that is allowed autonomy is self-motivated, inspired to achieve, and more likely to engage with work. The inevitable result is a boost in productivity. 

  1. Employees feel valued

Little makes an employee feel as valued as having freedom. When goals are achieved via personal thinking and innovation, successful results mean praise. Since it was their solution that produced results, they are deserving of recognition and credit.

  1. Develops leadership qualities in employees

When employees have autonomy in the workplace, they develop self-reliance and resilience. These are two of many important leadership skills. 

  1. Promotes skill development

When creativity is allowed, innovation is inevitable. Innovative solutions often require new skills, and with increased responsibility, employees feel encouraged to expand their skill set. The result is a workforce that strives to improve itself based on personal goals.

Empowered employees are happier, and happy employees are productive and motivated. Empowerment helps employees and their managers grow and develop faster, professionally and personally.

Keeping it Casual: Dressing for the office vs. Zoom

It’s been eerily quiet in offices buildings and spaces over the past two years, but now companies are opening their doors to their teams and tugging employees away from their carefully crafted work-from-home offices and Zoom screens… for the most part. But what will the office attire look like now, and how can you make sure to stay on top of it?

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We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: How Has Office Attire Changed Since COVID?

The past two years have been a bit of a blur, especially when it comes to the changing work landscape. First we were having to very quickly adjust to no work at all, followed by learning to work from home, and the butterfly effect of residual modifications. One of the biggest changes we had to adapt to was the new outlook on work attire. We started out dressing up for Zoom meetings, but once we got a little more comfortable, the line started to blur. 

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Did you leave your goals behind?

Remember those goals you set for 2022? We’re a few months into the year now, cautiously optimistic about how everything is going, and it’s time to check in with yourself about the goals you set at the start of the year. In this blog we will discuss the importance of revisiting goals that you set in the beginning of the year and how to revamp your goals after revaluation.

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Skills don’t stop at your resume: Using your skillset to build confidence

Are you stuck trying to figure out how to develop in your role and further your professional career? Continued education is key to success – especially in an industry where everything is moving at warp speed. There are many ways to improve the skills you already have, as well as broaden your existing skill set – Let’s talk about thinking outside the box. 

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Are You Providing Value in Your Role?

Are you providing value in your role? If your answer is “I’m not sure” or “I could be doing more”, then this is the perfect blog for you. Being able to determine whether you are providing enough value requires consistent evaluation and reevaluation. For each time that you are checking in with yourself, you should be compiling a checklist of things that you are doing and things that you recognize you should be working towards, so that you can stay on top of your growth and development. 

One of the best ways to make sure you are reaching your full potential is to include continued education specific to your career. Courses like our Star Achievement Series and World Class Assistant are tailored to the needs of the Administrative Professional Community. On top of that, our ACE Virtual Peer Network is ripe with resources and a community of like-minded peers, geared to support and motivate you. 

In this blog, we are going to help you begin to work on building your own checklist, by going over some of the top skills that a successful Executive Assistant should possess: 

Superior Organization Skills

As an EA, you are essentially in charge of two extremely busy workloads, your own and the executive you work for. You need to be able to prioritize all that there is to be done and see to it as efficiently as possible. Being proficient at multitasking is also crucial. No matter how well planned your day might be, emergencies and urgent issues that require your immediate attention will inevitably pop up and you must be flexible enough to handle these. 

Tech Savvy

Assistants should have a strong grasp of the traditional Google and Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel and Powerpoint as well as have a list of tools and resources that will ultimately help them do a better job. Data entry, minute-taking, and record-keeping are all important parts of what Executive Assistants do, and staying up-to-date with the latest applications and solutions on the market will definitely make your job a lot easier. 

In Control of Your Emotions

It’s important to know how to remain calm and keep a level head in stressful situations. Higher level executives are normally under extreme pressure and this is normally passed on to their EAs. Maintaining your composure will make your life a lot easier and will help you deal with the many crises that are bound to pop up on a regular basis.

An Ambassador

Familiarize yourself with the goals and values of the company and your Executive. You need to understand the bigger picture and keep it in mind, particularly when dealing with people external to the organization. This ensures that you are prepared to answer questions and even make decisions in the best interest of the exec as well as the company.


It is of the utmost importance that you maintain confidentiality and discretion for the sake of the Executive as well as the organization. Losing the trust of the Executive you work for will make it practically impossible for you to do your job. 

High Level Communicator 

You are a spokesperson for the Executive and for the company and must therefore possess great communication skills as well as people skills. These will help as you build relationships that will become crucial for you to do your job. A good EA is active on LinkedIn, Meetup and busy during social events, networking with other EAs and contacts who will come in handy further down the line. 

Able to Anticipate

By using their experience and possessing an understanding of both potential situations and your boss’ habits and needs, a great Executive Assistant is able to anticipate and overcome stumbling blocks before they occur. This will make you an invaluable assistant and will also help make your job feel a lot easier. Crisis after crisis can be averted with a little strategic planning.    

Quick Thinker

Along with being able to anticipate problems, you also need to know how to solve them on the fly. As an EA, you will face countless situations that might not necessarily have textbook solutions you can refer to. You will need to think outside the box and use every tool at your disposal to get to the bottom of a problem.

Sharp Negotiator

EAs spend a lot of time dealing and communicating with vendors and service suppliers and need to know how to negotiate to obtain the outcomes needed for the company or the exec. This could be for an executive’s travel needs, finding a table at the right restaurant for a business lunch, getting the best deal on office supplies, or even obtaining tickets or passes to exclusive events. 

Skilled Project Manager

EAs are often tasked with event coordination including planning team-building events aimed at enhancing company culture. Being a great company ambassador will put you in a stronger position to execute such tasks in the most efficient and effective way possible. 


The more of an analytical thinker you are, the better you will be at your job as an EA and the more valuable you’ll be to the execs you work for. You will be better equipped to deal with sensitive and complex situations. 

Fine Tuned Leadership Skills

You possess insight and knowledge on the needs and wants of the executives and of what is best for the company. You also hold the key to a trove of great contacts and connections. From time to time, you will be asked to pass on messages to the rest of the company on behalf of the your Executive. This puts you in a position of power but also requires you to be a team player. You must represent the Executive but should also be someone people feel they can turn to when the need arises. 


Change needs to be something you embrace. You should be able to deal with an ever-shifting environment but also constantly evaluate your own processes and find ways to make them more efficient and effective.

Willing and Eager to Learn

Start off by dedicating some time every week to keep up with the latest news and trends within your industry and be on the lookout for the tools that could help make your life easier. This alone will instantly put you in a stronger position as an EA.

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer

5 Traits of a Strong Mentor

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer

A mentor is a person who provides you with the tools, guidance, support, and feedback you need to thrive in your career. They’re often someone who’s gone down the same road you’re on currently and is there to advise you on what they’ve done and what’s worked for them. They can be peers, or seasoned professionals.

Not all mentors are created equal, but the best mentors share some important qualities which we are going to discuss in this blog.

1. Relevant Expertise or Knowledge
This one may seem rather obvious, but your mentor will ideally have relevant background and experience to you and your role. Maybe they’re a few levels or titles ahead of you or have worked in the space you’re interested in for some time, but they should be able to help propel you forward because they’ve been there, seen the landscape, and know what it takes to be successful.

2. Enthusiasm for Sharing That Expertise
The energy and attitude your mentor has for guidance matters. The best mentors give advice not because they like to hear themselves talk, but because they genuinely want others to benefit from the hard-won wisdom they’ve learned over the course of their careers. They should be open and excited to spend time working on things with you – whether it is techniques, strategies, problem solving or incentives.

3. A Respectful Attitude
This should go without saying, but you don’t want someone who criticizes you harshly and unconstructively. That makes for an unproductive and frustrating partnership. A good mentor will have your best interests at heart and will be capable of speaking directly but with respect.

4. The Ability to Give Honest and Direct Feedback
Finding someone who’s respectful is key, but so is finding someone who will give you some tough love when you need it. A good mentor knows how to deliver feedback in a way that’s constructive, kind, and direct, and doesn’t shy away from being honest because they’re afraid of hurting your feelings. At the end of the day, you choose your mentor because you want to learn and grow – having someone identify your areas of opportunity is key to your growth.

5. Reflective Listening and Empathy
Choose a mentor who can listen to your unique situation and perspective, so they can give you advice that is relevant to your personal goals. These are important qualities in a mentor because they can have all the answers in their head, but if they’re not willing to listen to where you’re coming from, they’re not going to be able to steer you in the direction that you want to go.

Ready to consider mentorships? We have our ACE Virtual Peer Network to connect you with like-minded peers, and one-on-one mentorships hours with a seasoned and successful Executive Assistant who is prepared to help you map the way to your full potential.

Want to learn more? Visit our website or give us a call.

Meet Joanne Linden, CPS, CEAP, CWCA President and Master Trainer