Autonomy at Work

Workplaces that foster the sense for autonomy have motivated, satisfied employees.

People sit and talk in an office lounge area with various seating options.

A recent study of 16,000 employees in 17 countries found that companies that grant their employees the freedom to make decisions about how and where they work perform better than those that don’t.1 In fact, one study found that companies that encourage autonomy outperform those that don’t by 17 percent.2

Autonomy is one of six fundamental human needs, which also include security, purpose, belonging, status, and achievement. We identified these needs through an in-depth review of literature, studies, and research from the past 80 years.3 Workplaces that foster a sense of Autonomy have motivated, satisfied employees. Organizations that fulfill the need for autonomy can enjoy increased productivity, creativity, and innovation.

Ongoing studies with our Living Office Research Partners from a variety of industries demonstrate that forward-thinking organizations and their design partners are creating workplaces that foster autonomy fulfillment. To achieve this, they’re implementing designs that offer a variety of settings tailored to support specific work activities and provide freedom of choice in where, how, and when work gets accomplished.

1. Reingold, J. “Why Trust Motivates Employees More Than Pay.” Fortune. April 27, 2016.


3Herman Miller, “Fundamental Human Needs,” company confidential, March 2015.