How to Become More Independent at Work

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of a happy business woman standing in front of other people faded into the background

Who doesn’t want greater autonomy at work?

For too long, you’re like many other professionals hitting the concrete jungle by having been micromanaged over every minute task delegated by your superiors. With somebody breathing down your neck all the time, it can be hard to complete your project or just enjoy your job.

Whether this is the company culture or the management philosophy, it’s not something that you will look back on with great nostalgia as your career advances and you become the new head honcho at an up-and-coming startup.

Until you move on to something better, there are ways to ensure that you can be more independent at the office.

As you embark upon this war of independence, it’s important to realise that being left alone to do your thing will not happen overnight. This is an incremental venture, but the journey of 1,000 steps to be afforded even a shred of independence is worth it in the end.

So, what is this fool-proof plan to be more independent in the workplace? In this article, we explore the 10 best tips to make it happen.

1. Enhance Your Reliability

How dependable are you? Are you the last to arrive and the first to leave? Or are you more of a go-getter who is the first to arrive and the last to leave? Does everyone turn to you for assistance?

Indeed, improving your reliability can go a long way in proving that you can be independent at work.

Rather than perusing Facebook or extending your bathroom break into an hour-long affair, you’re someone who only concentrates on your job.

Anytime your manager asks you for some help by staying late or taking some work home, you do it. If someone is absent for the day and something must get done, you fill in nicely without any complaints. Heck, it may even be that when something is missing at the office, everyone knows that your sublime organisational skills will help them locate the item.

This is how you gain autonomy in the workplace.

2. Add New Skills to Your CV

If the last time you updated your CV was right after graduation, then it’s about time you add to your CV.

No matter what industry you work in, it’s always a good idea to improve upon your human capital, whether it’s learning a new skill or getting certification in a specific field.

You not only increase your odds of landing employment but you also showcase to your current employer how seriously you take your career, which is something that may be lacking for a lot of new-generation professionals.

Therefore, if you’re spending your own time in enhancing your credentials, you’ll highlight your endeavour to be an authority source in your profession – why wouldn’t somebody extend greater independence to you?

3. Consider Additional Opportunities

Consider this for a moment: have you been offered additional opportunities at work? They don’t have to be anything glorious and extraordinary. They could be anything from working with seasoned veterans on an important project to participating in a meeting with crucial clients. If so, you may be groomed for big things at the firm.

That said, if you have been turning down these chances, immediately change course!

Every time you get one of these opportunities, you should take it. This is great for your career – plus, you’ll likely be afforded luxuries at the office, whether it’s greater independence or a promotion.

4. Enquire about Telecommuting

Wait a minute. You want to be provided more independence at work by doing your job remotely. Hear us out for a moment!

As you accumulate more time to your tenure at the firm, you should start to enquire about telecommuting, whether it’s to work from home or at a coffee shop. It doesn’t need to be permanent or every day of the week.

The purpose is to spotlight your initiative. The most important thing is that you show how responsible you are completing your job from the comfort of your living room. You take it seriously by being at your desk throughout your shift; you don’t wander to your sofa to play Super Nintendo, and you finish your assignments.

By telecommuting, you could attain more independence when you return to the office. It’s 4D chess! Plus, you may need to get accustomed to this new way of work, anyway, since the corporate world is seemingly adopting a work-from-home business model on a permanent basis.

5. Take a Break from Work

Let’s be honest: you don’t need to be chained and married to your job to develop your career. A lot of professionals make the mistake of thinking that they must eat, sleep and breathe the company.

It might be counterintuitive, but it’s better to unplug from the firm to climb the ladder and be autonomous. Why? Well, there’s a thing called working smarter.

If you can get everything you need to get – and then some – during normal business hours, you’re obviously equipped for the job and any other advancement in the company. Sure, there will be plenty of times where you need to stay connected in the evening or on weekends, but you can mostly fulfil your obligations Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Remember: you can have a strong work ethic and still possess a reasonable work-life balance.

6. Be Responsible for Your Mistakes

Look, we all mistakes. That’s why they put erasers on the back of pencils. Pobody’s nerfect, right? Oops.

That said, it’s imperative – especially in the corporate world – to own up to your errors.

By passing your faults onto somebody else, whether it’s a colleague or Billy the intern, you present yourself in a negative light. Why would you be given independence if you can’t even admit to your blunders?

The desired characteristic is somebody who admits when they’re wrong, learns from it and moves on. That’s what every employer wants in the office landscape.

7. Impose Self-Regulation

Spending 10 minutes on Facebook, 9 minutes texting, 23 minutes playing Flappy Bird and 5 minutes watching the latest trailer for the new Christopher Nolan movie – it all adds up, and it’s time that’s taken away from your job.

Your boss may not know about these time-killers, but they will inevitably find out, which immediately eliminates any shot of being given a spot in the office to work independently.

Are you one of these people? If so, it might be time to impose some self-regulation.

It could be hard to achieve, but there are plenty of ways to do it, including utilising mobile applications that limit your time on social media or other time-wasting apps on your smartphone.

Regulating your behaviour is hard for anybody to do, but if you are successful, you can do anything.

8. Stay out of Office Politics

Unfortunately, it’s easy to get sucked into the toxic world of office politics and gossip. Who doesn’t enjoy listening and spreading rumours about their employer’s mistress or the boss’s son-in-law landing a comfortable seat on the board of governors?

Whatever the case may be, it’s imperative to stay out of these things and just allocate your finite time to your position. This is more productive than swapping stories about Karen in accounting who spent her weekend informing the cops of an unlicensed lemonade stand.

9. Defend Yourself

Too many times, a colleague or a superior takes credit for your hard work. It’s infuriating to witness, especially if the project involved your blood, sweat and tears. But your coworkers won’t have you to kick around anymore.

You’re speaking up, defending your input into generating a stellar quarterly report or capturing clients from Hong Kong. And you know what? Good for you.

By defending yourself, you’re conveying your leadership skills and your dedication to your employment. If you’re willing to confront somebody, you’re showing how much you value your position and the company that hired you.

In the end, you should never be afraid to guard your important contributions to the firm.

10. Avoid Being Stuck to Your Job

If you lost your job, it would hurt you in several ways. Indeed, nobody ever wants to be terminated, but it can impact some worse than others.

In your case, it would be a good idea not to feel stuck to your job. By feeling like you have to be at your job, you can grow resentful of your position and even the company. However, by feeling that you’re there because you want to be, you’re more passionate about the employment opportunity.

And that is how you should think about everything in life: you want to be here, not that you must be here.

Knowing how to be more independent at work isn’t so much a problem. We all know that you can finish your assignments while you are handcuffed, blindfolded, under the water and playing a good old game of Hungry Hungry Hippos.

The primary problem is convincing your manager to afford you the luxury of sitting at your desk – at the office or home – and applying your expertise to a job that you are paid to do. Once you initiate this independence blitzkrieg, you will accumulate your victories by implementing these tips into your overall campaign.

Are you ready to self-regulate and be held accountable for your errors? If so, you will inevitably win this war of independence.

What do you think? What else could you do to become more independent at work? Let us know in the comments section below!