Authors Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst think it’s the future of work.
In 2014, Lizzie Penny had a baby and Alex Hirst suffered burnout.
As they write in their book Workstyle, “The traditional way of working wasn’t working for us and that we and everyone else in the world, should be free to choose for ourselves when and where we work.”
Their contention was that the current model of flexible working, work/life balance and the rest wasn’t, well, working.
Flexible working, they say, is “flexing around an industrial age system rather than proposing more radical change to how we work.” It relates our current practices back to changes that happened when the industrial revolution came along. Before then, when we were hunter-gatherers, we only worked an average of four hours a day.
In other words, they argue the current methodologies around flexible working aren’t effective for people.
Instead, they came up with a new idea in the pub.
“Work plays a much healthier role in your life if you have the complete freedom to choose when and where you do it,” they write. “An idea so revolutionary, it turns out, that there wasn’t even a word for it, so we created one: workstyle.”
They try to prove that individualised workstyles is better than a one-size-fits-all approach. And they want to convince companies to do the same. The book, which is essentially a manifesto, is broken the book up into parts – explaining workstyle, talking about its impact on wellbeing, productivity and society.
“[It’s] all about creating an individualised system of work,” is the key tenet, “but it is one that needs our collective action to succeed.”
As our attitude towards work and how we conduct it changes post-pandemic, it’s important to see people attempt to find solutions. The pair, we’re told, are carrying out research investigating the links between autonomy, wellbeing and productivity.
They write, “There are huge benefits for organisations which can find the trust and have confidence to empower their workforce to work in their own workstyles. Having a truly autonomous, motivated and passionate team working in their most individually productive way can be transformative…”