Pallavi Mithika Menon, 31Senior sous chef, Fava, BengaluruBecause of the work I do, “freedom” takes on a very specific meaning. Completely separate and far more distinct than “independence”. It’s cliché to say I strive for gender equality in a male-dominated profession. In the words of Gloria Steinem: “The first problem for all of us, men and women, is not to learn, but to unlearn.” Freedom means the ability to wipe the slate clean. Swati Thakur, 27 Assistant front office manager, Indian Hotels Co. Ltd (the Taj group), MumbaiTo express my views without any trepidation in a room full of leaders with several decades of experience is freedom. Traditionally, age has affected the perception of leadership. It still continues to, although its effect is waning. Being a high performer, I have received accelerated roles ahead of time. For a young leader like me, this kind of work culture is liberating.Rohan Jain, 29 Senior executive, Tech Mahindra Business Services, MumbaiIf I don’t have to be realistic, I’d like the freedom to take leave or go on vacation whenever I want to without a set number of days. As long as I’m performing at work, I wish to have the freedom to work remotely. It would be great if I could work on projects with the ability to take independent decisions. Freedom at work for me would be no dress codes, and being able to turn up in shorts!Krutika Joshi, 26RJ at Radio City, SuratA mind that feels free does better work. To me, freedom at work translates into the freedom to produce your best work: This could be by encouraging ideas, changes in operations, new management techniques and working on new projects to stay engaged. At my current job, what I like is that we are a team, but I have the freedom to be me—that’s vital. Prerna Lalwani, 29Senior analyst, Mondelēz India, MumbaiFreedom at work for me translates into flexibility in work-style choices. As long as I get the job done, I can work the schedule I want or work from where I want to. The other aspect I value is the culture of openness and active listening. I experienced this first-hand during a reverse mentoring programme, where some of us had the opportunity to mentor leaders in understanding workplace cultures that make sense to millennials. Akshay Tarfe, 25Junior consultant, Quality Council of India, DelhiMany years ago, someone decided people would have to be in office for a certain number of hours. I find the idea of clocking in a set number of hours constricting. Of course, there are times when one needs to be in office—for meetings, group projects and other assignments. But if one can work out of home or a co-working space, encourage it because it reduces the carbon footprint. Neeraj Senguttuvan, 27 Executive assistant to CEO, India & SAARC cluster, Godrej Consumer Products, MumbaiMy individuality should be respected. A workplace culture that does not box employees in standard operating procedures and set practices is all about freedom. It’s about being able to opinionate, ideate and execute freely. To be able to speak up no matter what, who or where; to have a free space and a clean slate to innovate, challenge and create; to be empowered to make a change; and take decisions without fear of failure. Dhananjoy Roy, 28User experience designer, Dew Solutions, DelhiTo me, freedom at work goes beyond the flexibility to punch in and out of office at will or be able to have fun at work. Freedom is about having a voice in the organization; and a clear, big picture of what I am working towards. We crib about work when our personal goals and company’s goals are at variance. To me, freedom is when my personal goals are aligned with my organization’s goals. Sunny Kamlesh Dave, 29 Assistant manager, Biocon, BengaluruTo stay ahead of the competition and deliver the best drugs in the market for the benefit of society, I believe the freedom to have more “room for failures” should be instilled. In addition, freedom to express ideas, innovative or out-of-the-box approaches to tackle critical projects, irrespective of the hierarchy/class, age, and years of experience should be encouraged. Ultimately, it’s innovation that drives industry and it shouldn’t matter where it comes from. Sanya Kansal, 28 Consultant, EY, GurugramThe absence of unnecessary hierarchies is what freedom at work is all about. One should be able to approach managers, team leaders, seniors or even peers with any query without hesitation or worrying about being judged. While it’s important for leaders to oversee projects, micromanagement should be eliminated as much as possible. As long as a person has proven their competence in meeting deadlines, there is no need to hand- hold at every step. Neha Saxena, 28 Associate senior engineer, backend development, Mastercard, VadodaraFreedom at work means freedom from constraints, the choice to work non-traditional hours, the choice of job movements, and flexibility in every way. The workplace should encourage independent decision making, allow sharing of thoughts and knowledge, and should have no room—whatsoever—for traditional and conservative mindsets. Gender-based biases are a complete no-no too.