14 | Developing Leaders Issue 31: 2019 Viewpoint A Flexible Approach to Work An exploration of the link between agile and flexible working and sustainable high performance and engagement I n the workplace providing an environment of perceived choice, autonomy and control is a necessary function for high performing teams. When individuals have a sense of agency and can function autonomously, they will be more deeply engaged, better able to connect, innovate and will improve performance. Think to a time when you may have been micro-managed, continuously directed and every aspect of your work scrutinised. Or, perhaps just think about the daily battle of trying to get on top of the workload and manage life outside of work. How do either of hese feel? As a sense of control diminishes so does our perception of choice and autonomy, and vice versa. If any of these elements are depleted our brains will interpret danger. After all, if the neurological interpretation of our environment is that of limited control, our threat circuitry is triggered because our safety is out of our influence and instead is in the hands of others and the outside world. Our attention narrows on this threat and our performance will start to suffer. If, on the other hand, our sense of agency is perceived to be supported, the brain interprets trust, triggers our reward system which leads onward to engagement and increased performance. By Susanne Jacobs