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I have an unusual hobby that brings me a lot of joy. It is provocative – as is my way. For the last decade or so, I have spent much of my time freeing people from the tyranny of employment.

Every time I help someone escape their employment restricted life, I mentally chalk up another victory on the side of the metaphorical ‘freedom bird’ I fly around on. Call it a peaceful reimagination of the world war 2 fighter pilots’ painted scores of enemy aircraft shot down.

I have helped dozens of people personally, and many more I’ve never met, to achieve this through my work on this blog. It is one of the things I am most proud of. In most cases, it’s not an easy process, but within 2 years, freedom is available to anyone who is committed to their great escape.

In the decades to come, we will consider the fixed 9-to-5, 40-hour work week to be an act of sheer lunacy and social barbarism. It is a form of imprisonment: in most cases there is little freedom of choice for people who work in organisations.

Don’t get me wrong – I have no problem with people who freely want to work like that. But after asking hundreds of people what their ideal work week would be, I have rarely heard a response that suggests the current norm. Which effectively means that we are forcing people to live a compromise they do not want to live. And it is not necessary. That old way of working was designed for an era of employment that does not exist any more.

Everything I have learnt and discovered about productivity, motivation, creativity and human performance suggests that this arbitrary employment practice is holding humanity back.

In an ideal world, employers would be brave enough to understand that top-down control and thriving human beings do not mix. To get the best out of people, you need to win their hearts and minds, rather than just have the presence of their body during work hours. The best leaders in the world understand this and are beginning to take bigger and bolder steps towards offering employees more freedom.

One of my early business role-models was the genius maverick entrepreneur Ricardo Semler. For decades, he has been been giving his employees utter freedom at Semler – probably the most democratic company on earth. The employees even vote on bosses’ pay. What is more astounding is that he achieved this in Brazil – and in businesses sectors such as manufacturing – with a low skill blue collar workforce, and without the factory floor grinding to a halt.

And this message is spreading. Last week, Sir Richard Branson announced that he was giving his employees unlimited holidays, provided that no harm was brought to the organisation. He is no mug, and sees that this will provide far higher returns for him in the long term. I am so glad that he and others like him are starting to take these high-profile, bold steps. Ironically, organisations see work hours and productivity go up when such practices are implemented – so there is no real downside.

When given freedom and responsibility, by and large, most people respond in a very positive way. Control is an illusion. The more you manage and control everyone for fear of the few who might take advantage, the more you lose everyone in the process. It is the management of the few at the cost of the many.

There is no longer any excuse to follow these old, outdated patterns of employment. The shift to more democratic, results-only work environments is already happening. Some of the best-performing organisations in the world are already doing it: consequently attracting the best employees, and more importantly, getting the best out of them. Competitiveness and control no longer mix well. To win in this brave new world, we must let go.

The genie is already out of the bottle. The path of freedom is available to all.

The question is – will you pursue it?

For employees, read these 2 books:

“Choose Yourself” by James Altucher

“The 4 Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris

If you are an employee looking to escape the 9 to 5 and wanting support, send an e-mail to . I will put together a programme and group to help you achieve this.

For employers, read these 2 books:

“Maverick” and “The 7 Day Weekend” by Ricardo Semler

If you are an employer who wants to radically improve the performance of your organisation and help your employees to thrive, please send an e-mail to

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  1. …having never had a job I could not agree more…free the wage slaves….

  2. Marc,

    You do…shake things up. The mentions of “ideal” lead me to ask if anyone would be willing to “write and share” theirs.

    We are waiting for you to claim it…

  3. Jayne Symes says

    I don’t work. But feel I should be doing something great. Something more. To relieve the monotony. Question? How do you afford to go where you are if you are not working = no work = no income. Been thinking about this lots since our meeting. If you don’t work therefore have no income, how can you do things?? Or did you win lotto??? Just asking cos without an income aren’t we restricted from living an ideal carefree existence??

    • I didn’t say anything about not working. I was talking about having freedom from the restrictions of current employment practices. People can be far far more productive when freed up from these traditional systems.

  4. Hi Marc,
    Oh yeah lets all take the day off tomorrow and even the whole of next month if we really want. I mean I don’t have any bills to pay and I don’t need any structure in my life, nor do my kids need a school that’s open for business when I drop them off to learn.
    Whilst Richard Bransons people can work when they like and similarly his planes can fly when they want right – or shall I still turn up at the airport at the allocated check-in time?
    Even the crazy place called the internet needs structure and people need routine in many parts of their lives to feel that they are functioning properly.
    It’s fine if you have the money in your back pocket to do exactly what you want but lets not pretend that 99% of people are struggling to make a living and pay the bills etc.
    As someone said once “Be careful what you wish for!”
    V Bests

    • As an employer I suggest you read Ricardo Semler’s books Chris. You will be surprised with the results that he achieved when he gave his employees much more freedom. Suffice it to say his employees were more than capable of working out what they needed to do to both delight customers and improve their work lives at the same time. The fear and the reality just don’t match in practice.

  5. “When given freedom and responsibility, by and large, most people respond in a very positive way.” Truer words were never spoken, and it is the rare corporate leader who really understands that more control begets less engagement, less productivity (the high quality kind) and less innovation. I add your post to the outputs from @leeromsegal on the TEDU stage in Rio yesterday, and Kristoffer Carter’s (@thisepiclife) post yesterday about engagement – it would appear that there’s a revolution underway. I’m keen to do my part and am thrilled to see this conversation growing. Nice one, Marc!

  6. I am a hard working NHS employee. I have not found a way to make a good amount and have a lot of bills to pay. Our cars are around 10 yrs old and we have to provide a secure upbringing for our 2 children.
    I would appreciate the freedom to work more effectively and freely about what I do, but the care for the people I serve I can do effectively only as part of a multidisciplinary network.
    Giving up what I do, would leave many things in limbo and people would get less good care.

    Freedom would be great, but not practical for me, sadly.

  7. So how would you propose the NHS for example adopt the employee led, more freedom, model you advocate here Marc? Anyone can say “but what if it was practical?” in response to the points made by Sebastian, but it doesn’t illustrate how your model\vision could be applied practically. The way forward you propose is a utopia that simply cannot be applied in certain industries such as the NHS for many reasons one of which being the multidisciplinary network Sebastian mentions in his comments. We would all like our employers to advocate and implement what you outline here, but until you provide a more lucid way in which it could be applied in traditional industries that have multidisciplinary networks in their organisational structure and methodology then we really are none the wiser for reading this page on your blog. The reform needed within the NHS, for example, to embrace your model/vision would be on a titanic scale and simply would not work. Perhaps your feature should acknowledge that it is not a way forward for all companies?

    • I grant you James that it may be impractical for some organisations to make the transition and where monopolies exist then it will take longer for them to be transformed/disrupted. The model is still possible in all industries and is being built somewhere in the world in all industries. Startups find it much easier to build using new ways of organising. Healthcare is about to go through a radical transformation where patients are taking much more of a role in their own healing as well as the healing of other patients as well. Technology has a big role in helping people self organise and will do so in healthcare.

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