[00:00:00] Shelley Intro: hello there. I'm Shelly Tonkin Smith here with Rowena Mabbott, and you are listening to two Booked Up. Today we're thrilled to be bringing you our first ever author interview. In fact, it's not just one author. It's two authors.
[00:00:19] Rowena Intro: Yes. Here at two Booked up, we like to work in pairs, so we are delighted to be interviewing Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst, co-authors of the book we've featured over the last few episodes, Workstyle, A Revolution for Wellbeing, productivity, and Society, which is a Sunday Times number one best seller.
[00:00:41] Shelley Intro: Another one of our missions here at Two Book Up is to help you to do work that lights you up, work that brings you joy, and do work that sets you up to make your highest level of contribution in the world. The problem is that the current world of work is broken. Right now it's difficult and actually done right, impossible in some cases to be a full-time worker, a full-time parent, a full-time homemaker, a full-time carer for family members.
The, the full-time list just goes on and on. Nevermind having to navigate life's inevitable challenges and taking care of your own mental and physical wellbeing. work style is Lizzie and Alex's solution to this broken world of work, and I think you're gonna love what they have to say. Whether you're currently a traditional office worker or a freelancer, a business owner, or if you're currently not in the official world of work, but you'd like to be on your own terms, then you're gonna love what they have to say.
[00:01:51] Rowena Intro: Yes, Shelly and I also know that living with intention is really important to our two Booked Up listeners. Work style is all about deliberately choosing when, where, and how you work, which is completely aligned with intentional living. Might have thought we'd organized that. We often say that two Booked Up is a podcast about books and the conversations they ignite, and I really think work style ignites a very important conversation about how we can each embrace our own individualized work styles and play our part in the wider work style revolution.
[00:02:28] Shelley Intro: This is the Two Booked Up Podcast, where we talk about books.
[00:02:38] Rowena Intro: The books that are challenging us to live more intentional lives
[00:02:43] Shelley Intro: The books that are equipping us on our business and professional journeys.
[00:02:47] Rowena Intro: and the books that delight and bring us joy.
[00:02:51] Shelley Intro: So if you want to live life with more intention, and if you want to be doing work that brings you joy, then come and join the bookish conversation with me, Shelly Tonkin. Smith.
[00:03:03] Rowena Intro: And me Rowena Mabbott here on Two Booked Up.
[00:03:14] TBU31 Rowena: And Alex Hurst are the authors of the Sunday Times number one bestseller work style, a revolution for wellbeing, productivity, and Society. They are business partners, speakers, and change makers, and the change that they wanna make is no less than to create a happier, more fulfilled society through a world of work without bias.
And Alex are the inventors of the word work style, which is the freedom to choose when and where you work.
[00:03:45] TBU31 Shelley: They started the work style revolution way back in 2014 when they co-founded a social enterprise called Hoxby to prove the concept of work style. So this revolution started. Way before the pandemic, and it has nearly a decade of research and evidence behind it. So Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst, welcome to two Booked Up.
[00:04:09] TBU31 Lizzie: Hello. Thank you so much for having us. We couldn't be more excited to be spreading the word about the WorkStar revolution around the world to South Africa and Australia and everywhere else too.
[00:04:21] TBU31 Shelley: Yay.
[00:04:21] TBU31 Alex: Yes. Very exciting. Um, hello, uh, thank you again Yes. For having us. Uh, it's great to, great to chat and really looking forward to, uh, hearing what your listeners think.
[00:04:32] TBU31 Shelley: Yeah. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here with us on two book tab. So Lidia and Alex, your intention with work style is a revolution. But embracing work style started with a personal journey for each of you. So Lizzie, can you kick us off and can you share how your work style story started?
[00:04:56] TBU31 Lizzie: definitely. So, um, I think for us it's really important that people understand why this is personally so important to us. So for me, it started when I had my first child, my son Finn, who is now nine. Um, and. Having him really opened my eyes to the enduring inequalities at work. I'm actually pretty embarrassed to say that until then I was relatively ignorant of the many groups who are being excluded from work.
But as you guys know, suddenly when you have a child, um, you don't want to be working nine to five or during their every waking hour. I wanted to be working nap times or in the evenings when he was asleep because. Goodness knows I didn't go out and have a social life for a while there. Um, and so that really opened my eyes to the amazing talent that was being ignored.
Cause the structure of work was set up continuing to be set up around an industrial age system rather than something that's fit. For the digital age that we live in. Um, and so it was after having Finn that I tried working, um, on a more classic, flexible basis. And, um, it didn't really work. And that led me to a conversation in the pub with Alex where we came up with the idea of, I'll let Alex tell you his story, um, that took him there.
[00:06:24] TBU31 Shelley: Cool.
[00:06:26] TBU31 Rowena: So Lizzy, I love that and thank you so much for sharing. Um, I feel that I can empathize greatly because it was my having my first child and I have to say he's now 16 and a half, so it was quite some time ago, but that certainly. Um, made me much more aware of the challenges of how to juggle meaningful work because it wasn't just about having work, it was having the meaningful work, which is something I know you talk about a lot in work style.
And so when I finally did go back after my youngest child was born, I was very fortunate and had the option to work just five hours a week. Um, and I did it in a work style way, but I had taken some time to get to that point, and I do. Know that there were a number of my friends from Mother's Group and others who had wanted to work part-time, um, but that wasn't available to them or they were in the office for two or three very long days.
But it ch it just wasn't actually effective for them or that cost effective for their family because childcare was exorbitant. Um, and so some chose not to return at all because childcare was just too much. So I can really, I really understand that there is a, it's a big need and I, I agree with you. Busy when we become parents.
That need becomes far more evident. So now Alex, your turn. You say in the book that by the time you and Lizzie were having this discussion, you had decided that you needed a new psychological contract with work. Can you tell us more about the events that led up to this epiphany?
[00:07:50] TBU31 Alex: Yes, absolutely. So, um, for me, uh, work was something that I enjoyed doing. Uh, but I would get up at half past five, leave the house at half past six to get to the office half past seven, and then get home 12 hours later. Uh, I'd have time for dinner, a bit of, bit of conversation, and then bed before doing it all again.
And I did that five days a week and I kept it up for years. And the reason that I did that, I think is, is because I was. to, uh, equate the value of my work to the amount of time I spent doing it. So I felt if I, if I did all I could physically do, then surely that would be enough. That would mean we had done as much as we could and I could have no regrets and, and feel like I was contributing, um, to the best of my ability. But ultimately, um, that led to burnout. Uh, it took my now wife telling me that I've become a shadow of myself. For me to realize that something had to change, uh, we did what most people would do in that situation, I think, which is take a bit of time off. We went away on holiday to Spain. Um, but I can't tell you much about that holiday because.
I wasn't really present enough to be forming any actual memories of it. Um, and it was only when we got back and it became clear that that was the case, um, that I hadn't been present and it hadn't really fixed me in the way that we'd hoped, um, that it became clear this was a mental health challenge.
This was something that would need more than just time to fix. So the way that. I then set about trying to fix it was to think about it in terms of a mental health challenge. Okay, so it's some, something to do with the way I'm using my brain, something to do with the way I think. And actually, I, I came to this conclusion that I was valuing my work on the basis of how much time I spent doing it, rather than what that work actually delivered.
The input rather than the output. And so when I talk about a psychological contract with work, that's what I mean really is how do I, uh, validate whether what I'm doing is valuable or not. And so rather than thinking about input from that point forward, I wanted to think about that value in terms of output, the outcomes and, and the impact of that work. And that meant that the amount of time I spent doing it and where I was doing it became a non-issue, really a, a question of choice. Uh, and that's the kind of essence of the conversation that, uh, I took to the pub to, to talk to Lizzie about that night and where we really had a meeting of mines that what we both wanted was to be judged on our outputs rather than our inputs.
So more about, you know, what we delivered rather than where or, or when we were working.
[00:11:08] TBU31 Shelley: That, that's such an amazing epiphany, Alex. I, I, you know, I think so many of us, I, I also can relate to that of, of really, really maxing at art and like almost getting to the end of the day and thinking of all the things I didn't get done and I. And also I think when you are enjoying your work, it's, it's great and you are, you're in that work and you, you're feeling like you're contributing.
Uh, but there's always more and more and more, like, there's never that point where you feel, um, like, oh yes, I've, I've done a good day's work and I think I can, you know, close off for the day because of that incorrect relationship with work that's, that's focused rather on all the inputs. And that's, um, you talk about presenteeism, uh, in the book as well of like, You know, having sitting down at the desk and being there, like that's what counted.
Um, so, uh,
[00:12:00] TBU31 Rowena: Being seen to be seen. So
[00:12:02] TBU31 Alex: and I'm
[00:12:03] TBU31 Rowena: much of my corporate life was about being seen to be seen.
[00:12:06] TBU31 Alex: And I'm ashamed to say that I was perpetuating that a culture of presenters and by my actions. And, you know, I did it for a long time and I, it, it's, it. It's very hard to admit that, particularly now having created work style as the antidote to it really. And you know, we talk about work style enabling people to work to outputs rather than inputs.
And, and that's built on trust rather than presence. So the, the experience of burnout has really just completely flipped my perspective on, on work. Uh, which, which, It can be hard to reflect on, um, when you know you've been doing it for so long, but
[00:12:47] TBU31 Shelley: But I, I think, I think that's, it sounds like what's really fueling this revolution is you, you know, you need to, you, you need to affect this big change. And I think this whole idea of now that we know better, we do better. Um, and so, so you guys had this really cool chat in the pub, and I love that it was when you were not working, when you were putting aside working and going to have a chat with your friends, and that's when you actually came up with this.
Rather creative and a disruptive idea of work style. And, and that's really where, where Hoxby was started. Um, so I'm really interested in this idea of hoxby because I think for, especially for US entrepreneurial folk care in South Africa, um, you describe Hoxby as a social enterprise. So am I right in saying that?
It was a, what is a, a collaborative of freelancers that work together to land project. With bigger companies, like as a group, I, I'd love could you just paint a picture of what's, what work looked like and what work style looked like at Hoxby?
[00:13:52] TBU31 Alex: Yes, absolutely. That's, that's right. I mean, we talk about it as a collective and we've seen a number of collectives emerge over the years since we started Hoxby. But this is really an assembly of, uh, Freelance people who have lots of different skills, a shared sense of purpose in HOK speed, which is really about change, ultimately revolutionizing the way the world works.
Um, but really it's also the place where we've tested work style since 2015 to prove that an organization can thrive when it gives its people the, the complete autonomy to choose one and where they work for themselves. So everybody within Hoxby has their own work style. They document it. So they, we, we talk about set project and respect.
So they set their work style for themselves to define how they want their work to fit around their life. Um, and then they project it so they. Share that with everybody else within a Hoxby environment and beyond in order to speak it into existence, but also to help other people to, um, understand their work style.
And that plays to the last thing, which is about respecting work styles, which is firstly about respecting. One another's work styles and also obviously secondly about respecting your own work style. So we find that people are very good at respecting each other's work styles and less good at respecting their own.
Uh, they tend to put everyone else before themselves, uh,
which of course, uh, is, is natural to the people pleaser, but it has to be something that people do consciously to actually set their own boundaries, uh, put things in place to enable them. To, uh, to respect their own work style and, and this is really key to enabling work style. To, to, to work for each individual and for the collective. So what we do is bring people together into teams. Those teams deliver projects for clients like Unilever, Merck, a i a, Amazon Web Services, divine Chocolate, blab. Lots of, uh, businesses, large and small around the world that, that have benefited from those project teams.
But I think probably crucially, The thing that we've been able to do by enabling everyone to have their own work style is access a workforce, uh, of people who want to be able to work, but perhaps can't because of the rigidity of the traditional work system. So we've been able to include people, uh, in our community, we call it, we refer to it as a community.
It's technically a collective, but within that community of people, there's a whole load of people who. Have been perhaps excluded by the traditional work system, but who are having a new opportunity to work in, do meaningful work as we talked about earlier, but in a way that suits their life.
[00:16:48] TBU31 Rowena: I love that, Alex, because I think that that for me is what really resonated listening to well. Cause I listened to the audiobook of work style, but I loved that piece. Around so many people who otherwise might not be able to work or have been previously excluded from the world of work. And the fact that you've been doing this since 2015 effectively and successfully in Hoxby shows that this is not a fly by night kind of thing.
This is proven, as you said, in a, you've got an organization that's running with everybody doing their own work style, and I think that is just awesome and I think it's great for our listeners to hear. To know that work style is working. It's not a new thing in the sense that it's been proven. So it's something quite exciting, but it's that they could, um, latch onto as well.
So now Lizzy, because you are also the co-founder of Hoxby, I can imagine it was quite exciting for you to see work style in action. But I know that you were faced with two major challenges in your life too. So would you mind telling us about those challenges and how your work style came into play in that time?
[00:17:50] TBU31 Lizzie: Yeah, absolutely Reina. So for me, starting Hoxby, as I say, was about becoming a mom for the first time. Um, but actually what's happened to me since starting Hoxby and putting work style into practice has really brought home to me just how critical this is and given me a way of being able to empathize with those.
Excluded groups, quite a few of them, in fact. So for me, two years after that conversation in the pub with Alex, I, um, had some serious complications during my second pregnancy with my twin daughters, Zoe and Megan, um, and meant having surgery at three weeks, followed by nine weeks. Bedrest. So being able to work from bed during those nine weeks and only telling a select few people about my personal circumstances, um, was actually life changing for me.
Um, it was a welcome distraction, um, and a, a world to escape into, I think is not an overstatement. Um, during what were long anxiety-ridden days at home on my own. Um, and we were incredibly lucky that against the odds, both our daughters survived, which is amazing. Um, but when they came home from hospital and we couldn't begin to fit the double pram through the front door of our London flat, we decided it was time to move across the country, um, to Bristol, um, which was nearer to my parents.
Uh, and we could get a bit more space in our house. Um, and that was something that I was able to do with absolutely no disruption to my career. Um, so work style really came to the fore during that time. Then fast forward to 2020 and outta the blue, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Um, which as you can imagine, completely turned my world upside down as a seemingly healthy 38 year old.
Um, but again, work style was my outlet. You know, escaping into my digital working world as much or as little as I felt up to that particular day or week, and it helped to pass the time in the chemotherapy chair. It helped. Thoughts of cancer, not to fill my head, nor the diagnosis to define me, which I was something which was so, I was so determined that it wouldn't, um, and since then, almost unbelievably, my husband's been diagnosed with cancer, and so now I fit my work around. Uh, supporting him through his treatment, managing the side effects of my medication, and trying to stay healthy myself, and looking after three small children. So as you can imagine, it's rare that any two for from. An idea that we came up with to fit around. Being a mom actually has become truly life changing for me in the years since.
Um, so yeah, I think for me this has gone from being something that we thought was a good idea to now I really, truly understand how life changing it can be to work in a work style way.
[00:20:59] TBU31 Shelley: Wow, Lizzie. Like, I, I just get chills hearing all of those parts of your story. Um, and yeah, it's, as you said, work style is essential. Work style is not just a nice to have for you. Now it's, it's, It's how you live your life and it's foundational to the way you live your life. Um, and yeah. What I'm also drawing from that incredible story is that through these incredibly trying times, um, working in a work style way has.
Been actually very good for your wellbeing overall. Um, so that work has been very supportive to you rather than being this thing that you have to push through. Um, we chatted in a previous podcast of picking up on that, uh, from the book of, you know, usually work is something you have to push through and you have to show up and you have to be there.
Um, in this case, Your work was part of your healing process and, and part of your support Yeah. The, the support structures that you had. Um,
[00:21:57] TBU31 Lizzie: And part of my identity, I would say Shelly as well. I think it was an important part of my identity through the anxiety of the complications in the pregnancy, the confusion and overwhelm and shock of being diagnosed with cancer. I felt like it was something consistent. It was something I could control at times when I couldn't control anything else.
And also, I am extremely passionate about my work. It's something that I get. A real kind of joy from as well. And so it was kind of a, a source of positivity in dark times as well.
[00:22:28] TBU31 Shelley: Amazing. I, I love that. Um, and I think this is such good news and pos possibly for many people, like counter product or counterintuitive news of like, oh, I thought work is supposed to be a burden. And I, you know, and, and I think for a lot of people, they're gonna say, oh no, for me this is impossible. It's.
Impossible for me to work in a work style way. Um, like maybe people need to be physically present at their work or maybe their employers not supportive. Or, or maybe particularly here in South Africa where unemployment is really high, um, somebody doesn't wanna turn down a job because a job is a job and it's gonna pay the bills, whatever the conditions.
Um, so. I'd actually like to talk now about those objections that come up. What would you say to those kinds of objections that come up to work? Style is impossible for me. Um, Alex, can you, can you speak to this?
[00:23:26] TBU31 Alex: Yeah, absolutely. Um, it, it's something we hear quite a lot and it's totally understandable because, uh, humans have been conditioned to work. In the industrial, uh, norm for more than two centuries. Uh, we are very comfortable with it and we don't believe it's something that we have the power to change. Um, and we're actually quite happy to just be told when and where to work.
But I think there has to be a realization that since the eight hour working day was conceived, we've invented electricity traded horses for cars. Been to the surface of the moon, invented underwater brass. We've also invented penicillin, personal computers, mobile phones. Human progress has been significant in two centuries, uh, but yet we haven't really thought to change the way we work, where we still fundamentally believe in being in a place.
For a fixed amount of time and that that's the best way to get work done. And sure, it probably was when we were working in factories and the bulk of what we produced was material. Uh, we were in an industrial economy, but we're not an industrial economy anymore. We're a service economy, and there are more than a billion, uh, knowledge workers globally. I think there is something like, um, two and a half million businesses in the uk knowledge economy. There's a lot of work being done now that can be done anywhere and at any time. And the tech, the, the technological developments of, of the last 15 or 20 years even have transformed what's possible in the way we work.
So what I would encourage people to do is to use work style as proof that. Knowledge work can be done differently, and that if we can change the way that a billion knowledge workers work well, firstly, that will be fabulous for the world,
[00:25:22] TBU31 Shelley: Yeah. Yeah.
[00:25:23] TBU31 Alex: for, for the people who, for whom that benefits. Um, but also changing the way that knowledge workers work and, and enabling autonomy in that form of work is surely the quickest way to influence those people who make decisions over how.
Other people work who perhaps aren't in that privileged position and, and who need to be in a location at the moment, they would need to be shown that there's a different way. But they need their leaders and their owners and directors to, to understand the benefits. So we are starting with them. This is a long term revolution, a agenda.
We are in it for the next well, however long we're fortunate enough to be here. The, the, the change will take time. But what we often say is work style can, can be a, a reality for people now who are in knowledge work, but it can also just inspire, uh, different ways of thinking about more traditional work where people need to be in a fixed place.
You know? Um, just because somebody needs to be in a fixed place to do their work doesn't necessarily mean they have to be there within a. A fixed rigid timeframe or a Monday to Friday work week, the opportunity, even with the most basic technology is to give people more choice, uh, over their working hours.
And actually that that choice over time of when work gets done is more important to people statistically than place. And I think we can kind of understand why that would be on the basis of being able to fit, juggle the many priorities that people have and fitting, um, work and life priorities. So thinking, using it as inspiration to, to, to rethink and just start there.
Really start thinking about it would be our kind of, uh,
[00:27:24] TBU31 Rowena: Maybe it's, it's the take home message, right? Just start thinking about it.
[00:27:29] TBU31 Alex: start thinking about it. Use the word work style and see what it throws up. See what it
[00:27:33] TBU31 Rowena: Yeah.
[00:27:33] TBU31 Alex: you.
[00:27:34] TBU31 Shelley: And, and the hand gesture,
[00:27:35] TBU31 Rowena: Yeah, of course.
[00:27:36] TBU31 Alex: A absolutely.
[00:27:38] TBU31 Rowena: Um, and I think.
[00:27:39] TBU31 Shelley: with it.
[00:27:40] TBU31 Rowena: Yeah, for sure. Alex, thank you for providing that clarity particularly and articulating that it is a revolution starting with knowledge workers. Because I think, um, people who may have listened to the book or have been listening to us over the previous episodes may have got a bit of a sense that this wasn't for them, but by articulating that, hey, we're starting with the knowledge workers and there's like a bu a billion or more of those.
That's then the trickle down, right? It we gotta start somewhere. And I love that you've articulated that. I made it really clear because I have to admit, that was a bit of a concern for me when I first listened to the book. But by chapter five, it solved me. So it was okay. Um, but I do think that part of that assumption is that.
People might feel work style is only for the, the freelancers or the entrepreneurs and the solo operators. And that in order to create your own work style, you have to kind of quit your job and go out and do things on your own. Um, and I really like that in the book, but also I. I know for both Shelley and myself and even with my husband, who is in a very traditional corporate environment, it's not actually the case.
I've seen him starting to create his own work style. He doesn't have the terminology, but I've seen him doing it, so I know it exists. And Shelley and I have talked about in previous episodes our own work styles. So this is where I think the work style movement goes beyond individuals and seeks to make a much bigger, broader change in the traditional workplaces everywhere.
So perhaps Lizzy, would you mind telling us. Why it's important that you bring work style into those traditional workplaces.
[00:29:12] TBU31 Lizzie: I think in short, We are trying to change the world. We're trying to create
[00:29:18] TBU31 Rowena: Just a small ask.
[00:29:19] TBU31 Lizzie: It's a small ask. It's a small ask, and our ambitions are to move the world from industrial age thinking to digital age thinking, and you simply can't do that if you say this is simply for freelancers or for people who are already in.
The workforce or any one group, essentially, this is for everyone. And when you look at the makeup of any organization, it will include some of those groups who are in theory structurally excluded from work. So you touched on this earlier, Rowena, but in the book we talked about seven groups who are structurally excluded by traditional work because they can't fit into that.
Nine to five, five days a week. Traditional working mold. And I'm just gonna take a minute to say them cause I think it's really important to acknowledge who they are. So, parents of children or a child under 18, older workers, carers, people who have a chronic illness. Um, people living with a physical disability, people with a mental health challenge.
And people who are neuro divergent, and that between those groups, that's a massive number of people who are having to make sacrifices and compromises in order to earn an income. And so actually it would be transformative. To be able to change the way that organizations work so that those people who are already in those organizations making sacrifices can actually bring their best selves to work.
We really engage, be really positive and work when they're, they're most productive, but also bring new people into the labor market who aren't in it currently. So we recently, um, helped the UK government with an inquiry that they were doing into post pandemic. Labor markets. Um, and they asked us to quantify the number of people in the uk sorry for all our UK stats across those seven groups.
And when we looked at it, it's around 4 million. That's actually a really significant part of the workforce who are
[00:31:26] TBU31 Rowena: That's nearly just, just for my, our Australian listeners, that's pretty close to the entire Australian population.
[00:31:32] TBU31 Lizzie: Yeah, I mean that's, that's mad isn't it? Like, and that, and a lot of those people are already working. So they are employees, they're in organizations, but they're just making compromises in order to find a way to work in that way. And mostly what they're doing is they're compromising their lives. Their caring responsibilities, their own health, their children, you know, and we feel that actually people shouldn't have to do that.
So it's important that we take the work style conversation everywhere and we recognize Hoxby is an extreme version, but that doesn't mean that organizations can't adopt some elements of the work style attitude. You know, helping people with boundary setting the set project. Respect framework that Alex talked about earlier.
Um, and actually what we're doing at the moment is developing training modules for organizations to adopt that. Just break it down into the small cultural elements, trust-based working, for example, that they can adopt without needing to say, we're gonna go the whole hog and work in a work.
[00:32:34] TBU31 Alex: I think that that is really important to, to build on really, which I think is, um, Organizations are guilty of, um, thinking of employees as a group. Excuse me. Organizations are guilty of thinking of employees as a group, and that you need a one size fits all solution, whether that's full-time, part-time, hybrid, employed, remote, whatever. Actually, what we're saying is, Any solution like that is going to be exclusive to some people. what, what we are saying with work style is everybody has a unique life, uh, that they need their work to fit around, but also they have a unique contribution to bring. Uh, they, they might be, um, collectively, uh, Able to work better if they understood each other as individuals better rather than kind of lumping each other into the same sort of stereotypes as organizations do by calling them employees.
So what we're saying is with the organizations that we're talking to at the moment, Give people the means to talk about themselves as individuals, the unique contributions they can bring, the way they can fit work around life and how that will be transformative for them and for the work that they do. And work style can be the basis for that kind of conversation within
[00:34:11] TBU31 Shelley: Mm-hmm.
[00:34:12] TBU31 Alex: that employ thousands of people. And what that does is start to acknowledge that. People have individual lives and also start to, um, show that you can consider that individual life in the way in which that that person gets their work done.
And that's really, I think the, the big, the big starting point for all of this, which is to get people thinking about their own work style and organizations starting to ask individuals to talk about themselves as an individual. And with that kind of change, we can then help with the con that we can then start to drive broader adoption of, of work style and, and hopefully influence lives.
[00:35:01] TBU31 Shelley: Yeah, I, I love that individualization focus. I think that's, like, for me, one of the burgers takeaways from work style is that we don't have to hide our personal life and separate out our personal life in our, and then have this like, you know, Behind the curtain kind of work life, um, that everything melts together, that actually that makes you a better, more productive worker.
Um, when you're bringing in what you have from your personal life and your personality and who you are, your strengths and your, um, your quirks and you know, the things that don't fit into the mold that makes you a better, a better employee in inverse commerce. Um, I, and I think the world needs that diversity and I think I love that.
The personalization and individualization aspect because I think that's also a great start small place for work style. Um, as you say, it's these cultural shifts that need to happen and like, yo, we 2000, I don't know. You know, we Swiss. 200 years into this industrial age model. So it's gonna take a long time to change it.
Um, and I like these shifts, but I also like that it's like Viva the revolution and you know, we're, we need change here. Um, and so I think people will go, uh, organizations will go. Okay, cool. So you guys, you just mean, uh, work style is all about flexible work and, you know, companies can now allow some of your, um, employees to work from home.
And I see Lizzie shaking her head work style is not flexible work. Lizzie, please correct me here.
[00:00:00] TBU31 Lizzie: Uh, yes. This is something that we will often say to us, oh, well this is just the same as flexible or hybrid or the four-day work week. Right? And it really isn't. Um, we are one of the few people who happily speak out against flexible hybrid four-day work week, nine day fortnight structures on the basis that actually hybrid working is a post pandemic concept.
Um, but it continues to handker back to that kind of industrial age outdated. System of work. Flexible working is 70 years old. I mean, people think that's a new way of working, but already it's 70 years old. Think about some of those inventions that Alex talked about that have been conceived of in the last 70 years, let alone to mention the small issue of a global pandemic.
That's happened since then. So essentially our, our challenge with flexible working, and this applies to hybrid in the four day work week as well, is. Three things. So firstly, it's flexing around an outdated industrial age system. It requires that outdated system to exist when really we feel we should move to a way of working that is, um, fit for the digital age that we live in and is fundamentally different based on or.
Autonomous working and individualized working. The second thing is that flexible working creates in group outgroup dynamics, um, to get a bit geeky about it. Um, so the prevailing way of working is still nine to five, five days a week. And so anyone who works differently from that is seen as kind of special in some way and.
I think that what that means is that we need not just a new system of work, but a new language of work that doesn't have the kind of negative connotations of shirking from home, or being a part-timer, or being called a flex pest. Um, you know, this is not about being treated. Yeah. Hopefully. I'm glad, I'm glad you haven't.
Um, but, but this is about everyone being treated. The same, rather than having this in group who work in a traditional way and an outgroup who work differently cause they're allowed to work flexibly. And then the third thing goes back to what we were just talking about, you know, for many excluded groups, um, this way of working, flexible working simply isn't creating change fast enough or in fact at all for some groups.
So in the book we look at the gaps between those who. Want to work in each of those excluded groups I talked about, and those who do. So for example, 77% of people with autism want to work, but only 26% do. I mean, that's a staggering 51% gap and that that gap is not closing at all. So I think that for me is probably the most powerful testament to the fact that flexible working simply isn't creating the change.
That we need to. Um, so yeah, for us, this is, this is not about flexible working. This is about something fundamentally different. It's about work. It's all working.
[00:02:57] TBU31 Alex: I couldn't agree more, and in particular on that statistic around the gaps. Uh, are not closing, um, for the groups of people who can't access work, what we are trying to do with work style is not only improve the wellbeing of people's lives, um, which in turn increases their productivity. By the way, according to the research that we've conducted over the last four years, could talk about that more.
But the point I wanted to make was, We will benefit from more diverse organizations if we can create a more inclusive way of working, which, which is what we're trying to do. And we talked earlier about this attitude of individuality, of recognizing the individual contribution that people make. When you've got that attitude and you've got.
More diverse organizations. So diversity and integration. You've got the recipe for, or what the formula for what Sof Mulgan describes as collective intelligence. So collective intelligence being how smart we are as a group. And you know, I think, uh, a lot of organizations right now are, are probably. Not as collectively intelligent as they could be because they're simply not as diverse as they could be.
Traditional, uh, structure, traditional thinking, traditional way of working is, is excluding valuable diversity of thought, and it's possible that that rigid system. Is in fact the thing that's preventing people from solving the bigger challenges of our time because we are locked into an an outdated way of thinking.
That's excluding the unique contribution, the valuable contribution that other members of our species could bring. So that's not only a great opportunity for companies, is a great opportunity for. Humanity overall to solve some of the bigger problems we're facing, uh, living on this tiny planet hurtling through space.
Um, so there's that sort of things, but at a more practical level, um, work style is great, as I said, for wellbeing and our research, uh, proves that it's better for productivity, um, as a result. Um, we can speak to the research if, if you're interested to, to hear about it, but really we, we conducted a study, uh, that looked to explore the relationship between autonomy, having the freedom to choose wellbeing and productivity.
And what we found was autonomy makes you more productive largely through. And increase to wellbeing. Uh, but there's other ways in which it makes you more productive, uh, as well as part of that perhaps. Um, for example, it enables us to maximize our personal energy, um, by kind of working at the times that suit us best.
We're all different, by the way, when it comes to that. Uh, enables us to find clarity. Yeah, some, uh, some, uh, Morning people, larks some night outs. Um, finding clarity by working in a way that suits us best. So not being distracted by the things that are put in place to serve a majority, um, and enable us to find times to practice the things we want to master, you know, have more time.
To, to dedicate to the things we want to be good at, um, to work in a trust-based environment. So give trust and benefit from receiving trust in return helps to make us more productive, use our time better, and even just setting up our own workspace. I'm standing at a standing desk, uh, today for this conversation.
workers who have, or, yeah,
[00:06:27] TBU31 Shelley: I have a standing desk, but I'm still seeing, I'm afraid,
[00:06:30] TBU31 Lizzie: Oh no,
[00:06:32] TBU31 Shelley: but I've got it. It's sit to stand. I love it. I love it.
[00:06:35] TBU31 Alex: Yeah. Well that is, that is the best compromise, but sitting is as bad for you as smoking. We'll, can I say that another time perhaps? But, um, those who have control over their, yeah. If you've got control over your workspace, you can be up to 32% more productive statistically. Um, and that's just a, I think that's just a great example of if you just give people a little bit of autonomy.
You can reap enormous gains. That's a third, uh, in productivity.
[00:07:04] TBU31 Rowena: I love that, Alex. And as a, um, previous, my previous life before my current role, um, I was a, an HR manager in a very large organization. And if someone had said to me we could get a 30% productivity improvement, I think that would've been a pretty easy yes. From our senior management. So I think any, any of our listeners who are working in big organizations, take that fact, grab your copy of work style and go and.
Do a little bit of a sales pitch to your senior management teams. So Alex, whilst you were talking about practical things, I would like to get a little bit more practical here. I'm very much a practical girl at heart and talk about how people can set. Project and respect the work style. Now, a great place to start, as I've just mentioned, is to get yourself a copy of the book Work style, and I will mention also that Shelly and I have each shared our own work styles in the previous episode, episodes 30.
So if you haven't already listened, go back and listen to that because we share how we've made work style our own. And what our life looks like as a result. But Alex, what other tips can you share with our listeners to help them become work stylers and how can people play their part in the work style revolution?
[00:08:18] TBU31 Alex: Oh, where to start? Um, so there are resources I will say on work style revolution.com. There are um, tool, there's tools there, there's also interviews with work stylers, which, uh, all add to the richness of this conversation and I think, and hopefully can serve as stimulus for this. But I think the starting point for me is setting your work style, which is hopefully.
I know more than an hour to begin with, uh, of just kind of, um, looking at your typical week, um, and looking at that in terms of 24 hours a day, uh, that are available to you. Um, and I, I imagine it as a grid in my head where there's 24 hours, uh, down the left hand side and then the days across the top. Um, we're not
[00:09:08] TBU31 Rowena: a hundred and sixty eight hours across your week.
[00:09:10] TBU31 Alex: you go.
There you go. Now,
[00:09:12] TBU31 Rowena: it. Yeah.
[00:09:13] TBU31 Alex: don't get me started on whether the working week or the week itself is in fact a valid concept. But what we, what we know
[00:09:21] TBU31 Rowena: whole, that's a whole nother podcast
[00:09:23] TBU31 Alex: we're gonna keep, yeah, we're gonna keep with, let's keep with the idea that there are seven days, but perhaps be less, pay, less respect to the weekend.
Because the reality is if, if you want to work on a weekend, cause it fits with your life. Then treat all hours equally, and the same applies to, to the evening. Um, so start by listing out the non-negotiable elements of that. So sleep would be a really good starting point, I think. Um, and perhaps consider, you know, if you've got kids, what are your obligations to them?
Uh, what are the things you just actually have to do? You probably have to have. A meal or two or three or whatever your diet looks like, put those in and then look at what, what you've got, uh, left. Uh, consider the times of day when you are most productive and start to pencil in the type of work that will be suitable for that time of day.
So, for example, for me, I like, I'm most productive in the mornings, so I like to set aside time for deep work first thing. And then in the afternoon, I'm. My brain's usually not much good for anything, so I'm much better for, uh, shallow work. Yeah. So I tend to have calls, conversations around that time where it's more about responding, um, to, to in a live kind of format or just troubleshooting stuff.
Um, and then in the evening I might do some messaging. Um, because I've got some downtime once the kids have gone to bed, for example. But everybody's different and everybody has energy at different times of day. We know people who like to work through the night on, um, creative projects or on digital development.
Everyone's different. Figure it out for yourself. When do you best do the type of work that you do based on what you do? Um, and, and really fit that into a, a week. Um, and. Review it after a few weeks and see to what extent does my work style currently map to what I would like it to be. And if you are, if you are trying to, to live to that work style, you will very easily identify areas where it's not working or where it could be improved.
And then it's, it's within your power to, to change it. To shape it into something that
[00:11:52] TBU31 Lizzie: I would add that Alex and I, we speak every Friday we have a, a, um, brief chat in the diary called Friday Feelings, and as part of every Friday feelings, we talk about work style, you know, Is it still working for both of us? We each have very different work styles in the week that we have some overlap time.
Um, and it, I think one of the things is to be in the mindset of this being something dynamic, that this will evolve, life changes and therefore your work style can and will change. And often having someone else who, as you guys do, is a counterpoint who you can just talk through your own feelings and then updating your work style as a result.
I think is really important. You know, it's a live document and life does change, and your work style should change to reflect that.
[00:12:40] TBU31 Shelley: Yeah, I, I, that's been key for us. Mm-hmm.
[00:12:44] TBU31 Alex: Lizzie just talked about it as a document there, which I think is, is really important, which is, um, once, once you've figured it out, uh, broadly speaking, write it down. And this could be a really cathartic exercise of and of articulating. Why your work style is the way it is, as much as what it is, so you can say to yourself or to whoever's gonna read it.
This is what I have going on in life. By the way, I'm a human being. I'm not a robot. I have a life outside of work. Here's what it constitutes. Here's what, how my work fits around it. Here's how you get the best out of me on a day-to-day basis. And so writing that down into a document is an incredibly valuable thing to do for you individually.
But it also enables you to move on to the second stage, which is to project your work style. So you can share that document with people and you can attach it to your profile, put it on online and link to it via email signature if you're still using emails. Um, but. That sort of thing helps you to start to project your work style.
Um, and you can even put, um, your, uh, work style into your status if you are on a messaging platform or as a z into your email twitterer, if that's how you roll. Uh, still. Um, but don't ever be apologetic about it. I think what we're doing really well at the moment, as, as people who are working atypically, let's say, is we're being a bit less.
Ashamed of working in a different way and we're being a bit more overt about communicating that we don't expect people to reply to us immediately, but we ex, you know, we hope that they'll respond when they're working next. That kind of language is, is where we're going with all of this. Never be apologetic, just put it out there. Um, and then the last step is, yeah, sorry. Are we gonna run out of time? I think, can't we? But I'm just gonna
[00:14:34] TBU31 Lizzie: gonna run outta time. He, this is why he wrote a book on it, guys. Cause
[00:14:38] TBU31 Alex: Yeah. Well, and yeah, and you can, as I say, like the last, the last stage is respecting the work style, which is arguably the hardest part, um, but the most important bit and the thing that actually will help you to evolve it over time in the best possible way.
But as I said at the start, all of this is available on work style revolution.com. Have a look around, see what you think.
[00:15:00] TBU31 Shelley: Oh, wonderful, wonderful. Yeah, I, I was gonna say, I, I notice this Lizzie on, on Slack. I'm part of the work style revolution, slack group and Lizzie, I love how you always update your status. So you know that like Lizzie's not available right now and everybody knows through your Slack status, um, when you're working and when you're not available, and that you're weekending.
So it's also. It's lovely to, oh, that's, this is so cool. Lizzie's having a long weekend. Um, and, and not to hide that it's like to be unapologetic as you say. Alex, I think it's so important. Um, I want to ask one thing for my Playful Mompreneur listeners. So I have another podcast called the Playful Mompreneur and I just, you two are the epitome of this very Playful.
Pair that, you know, you bring playfulness into your work and into your work style, the way you've written the book. Um, you talk about people like, so Robert Owen, who you call sir Avi o he's like your buddy and you bring him back from the dead and, um, you, or just all the illustrations that you've got in the hardcover book.
That's why I made my parents bring me back a copy of the hard cover book. Look, I've got two, so I'm going
[00:16:08] TBU31 Lizzie: You got two?
[00:16:10] TBU31 Shelley: I've got two cies, so I'm going to, um, we're gonna, I'm gonna do a giveaway and give one copy away to the people here in South AF here in South Africa. But yes, I love your playfulness.
Uh, I just wanna hear, because also you've got your work style freestyle videos that go and have a look at that on LinkedIn. Everyone, we, you guys are dressing up in tough hats and standing outside the houses of Parliament. Um, Tell me about that playfulness. Tell me about any funny stories that you've got with recording those videos.
I'd love to hear them.
[00:16:42] TBU31 Lizzie: Um, so I think as you've, I'm sure gathered, um, from listening us to us talk, so far we are, um, resolutely serious about changing the world of work. We are very passionate and serious about our subject, but we also believe that work should be fun, and we also believe you should bring your whole self to work.
We're all humans, and so we put ourselves out there and we are a bit. Silly. Um, and so we don't take ourselves too seriously. We also just so happen to make each other laugh a lot. We've got the same, um, very geeky sense of humor. Um, and so for us that's just about having fun along the way and also, you know, We've written quite a long book with quite a lot of references in it.
We wanted to make sure that we've enjoyed the journey of, of reading it. So we made sure we brought our own personality to that. So yes, Alex and I have been to, um, mess Around Bit. We've done videos from all sorts of. Locations got loads of weird looks. We've dressed up in green morph suits. Um, you name it, we've done it.
More silly suggestions. Welcome and I think Alex one brush with security. Um, when we making one of our video.
[00:17:57] TBU31 Alex: Yeah, pretty, pretty heavy handed move, move on from outside of, uh, a large office building in London, uh, where we were kind of making the point that these buildings are gonna become redundant at some point. And I think, uh, I think this particular gentleman was perhaps concerned about, uh, his future work prospects as a result.
Um, but I think, you know, the, the, the reality is human, uh, humor, bonds, people. Uh, you know, we, we like to share in a laugh, and I think as founders of Hoxby, which is a community of people who for the most part will never meet in person, it is always been important to our culture to inject humor into the things that we do.
Uh, because it, it bonds, it unites, uh, everybody, uh, in a way. That, you know, is, is it deepens relationships, but it also is human, you know, and, uh, work very often is guilty of forgetting that and becoming, uh, very serious and very inhuman in the way in which it gets done and in the way in which people talk to each other.
So it's a conscious choice on our part, I think, as well to, to demonstrate that that work doesn't have to be, uh, something that we. That we slaved through in, you know, in the
[00:19:15] TBU31 Rowena: I love that. I have to say the humor piece appeals to me greatly because one of the biggest saving graces for the time that I was in corporate was. One of my colleagues was absolutely hilarious and we were doing some pretty rubbish stuff. We were doing some pretty horrible things. Not horrible to bad like to people, but it was just, there was tough work being in HR for doing redundancies and all that sort of stuff, and that my colleague made everything fun because no matter how serious it was, he would be guaranteed to get one of us.
One of us would be in tears laughing so hard at the stupidity of something silly. Yep. And it's good fun. It's so much fun. Even now, it's nearly 20 years later and I still reflect
[00:19:56] TBU31 Lizzie: We have been in that situation,
[00:19:57] TBU31 Rowena: particular person was an absolute godsend for that time, um, and made work really enjoyable. So now Lizzy and Alex, I'm conscious that we are coming to the end of our time together, and as we wrap things up, can you tell us what is next for the work style revolution?
[00:20:24] TBU31 Alex: Um, yes, we can absolutely. The work style revolution? Well, we've got quite a big goal. As, uh, Lizzie talked about earlier, we're trying to change the world. Um, what that means in the short term is we are working towards, uh, an autonomous working bill being passed here in the uk. So we've recently just had a flexible working bill approved, which gives people the right to request flexible working, but we think just goes absolutely nowhere near, uh, far enough, uh, towards the vision that we have for the.
Future of work. So a lot of what we're gonna be doing from a campaigning point of view is going to be with that in mind, trying to enable people to have as much choice in the way that they work as humanly possible. So that is going to be happening, um, through what we call the work style revolution. Uh, which is going to be an exciting journey and, but will also shape, uh, and inform, as Lizzie talked about earlier, a lot of the content that we're gonna be putting together to educate people in how to work this way, uh, and how to take on a work style for themselves.
How to work together when everyone else is working in a work style way. Um, so. Keep an eye out for that from the work style revolution. There's gonna be some exciting developments coming from there over the next, uh, few years in, in enabling people, um, to, in supporting people to, to set projects and respect their own work styles.
[00:21:49] TBU31 Shelley: Well, Lizzy and Alex, I'm just gonna say thank you so much for joining us here on two Booked Up. Today. It's just so exciting what you've got planned. And I know a lot of your changes are focused in, in the uk, but this is going to go global. Um, as you say, you have that's, you know, very humble, uh, goal to change the world and we're here with you.
Uh, so we. Truly see work style as a truly revolutionary book. And you've given expression to an ideal that I think so many of us have been longing for. Um, and now we've got a word to express it. So I say Viva work style and viva the Revolution. Let's do this. Uh, just to tell everyone in South Africa, the book is available on amazon.com and Amazon dot.
co.uk, uh, in South Africa, you can pick it up on Kindle on amazon.com. Um, and listen, south Africans email me at she she Smith creative.com and let's see if we can organize a bulk order of hardcover books. I'm also gonna chat to the folks at exclusive books and maybe see if we can get. Some work style hard cover books in, in exclusive books as well, or you can tell your friends and family you're coming back to visit from London to bring you a work style copy as well.
[00:23:07] TBU31 Lizzie: Amazing. And Shelley. Can I just add, um, that anyone wants to go revolution com slash community. There's a button that says Join us if click on that button
[00:23:19] TBU31 Rowena: That's fantastic. Thank you for sharing that, Lizzie. Um, and so Australian listeners, you heard Shelly tell our South African listeners, but you can also get the book on Audible, Kindle or hardcover on Amazon, or if you prefer to support an Australian business, and I know you do on, you can get it online at Booktopia or at your local independent bookstore.
So Lizzie and Alex, can you tell us where two Booked up listeners can find you online?
[00:23:50] TBU31 Lizzie: So we are on LinkedIn, um, Alex Hurston, Lizzie Penny, and we're also on Instagram work.
[00:24:00] TBU31 Shelley: Cool.
[00:24:01] TBU31 Alex: if you're still using email, sorry. Yeah, this is Slack group. But also if you're still using email, as I hear some people are, then you can email us at Lizzie and alex WorkStar revolution.com.
[00:24:16] TBU31 Shelley: Wonderful. And then it's, is it, uh, work style revolution.com, the website.
[00:24:22] TBU31 Lizzie: Yes,
[00:24:23] TBU31 Shelley: There we go.
[00:24:23] TBU31 Lizzie: there.
[00:24:24] TBU31 Shelley: So there you have it. We'll put all those links in the show notes as well. Lizzy Penny and Alex Hurst, thank you so much for joining us. Goodbye.
[00:24:32] TBU31 Lizzie: Thank you
[00:24:33] TBU31 Rowena: Bye.
[00:24:33] TBU31 Alex: Thank you for having
[00:24:36] TBU31 Shelley: Bye.
[00:24:39] Shelley End: Well, I must say I absolutely loved chatting to Lizzie and Alex, and I just encourage you two Booked up listeners to go and get yourself a copy of work style and go and start. Joining the work style revolution. They've shared a lot of great resources as well as the book itself.
So it's such an exciting time and we'd love to hear your thoughts on work style. Go and follow Alex and Lizzie, but you can also go and follow us and let's. Carry on the conversation about work style. You can find me on Twitter at Shelley t Smith or sign up for my newsletter at Shelley Tonkin Smith dot com.
And of course, if you'd like to learn about my copywriting services very work style orientated, head on over to Shelley Smith creative.com.
[00:25:28] Rowena End: And you can find me at Rowena Mabbott on Instagram. Let's continue the conversation about work style over there, and if you'd like to learn more about how I can support you as a career and life confidence coach and maybe help you craft your own work style or you can download my free book, the A to Z of Career and Life Confidence.
Head on over to my online home where you can do all of that at Rowena Mabbott dot com.
[00:25:50] Shelley End: Thanks so much for joining us on two Booked Up today. Rowena and I will be back with another new episode in a couple of weeks time and we look forward to continuing the conversation then.
[00:26:01] Rowena End: You've been listening to two Booked Up with me, Rowena Mabbott.
[00:26:08] Shelley End: And me, Shelly Tonkin Smith, please subscribe or follow two Booked up in your podcast player. And if you've enjoyed this episode, we'd love it if you would rate and leave a positive review in your podcast player.