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Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst

A revolution for wellbeing, productivity and society

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3.8 (223 ratings)
21 mins
4 key ideas
Audio & text
What's it about?
Corporate Culture
Career & Success

Workstyle: A revolution for wellbeing, productivity and society (2022) introduces the concept of workstyle: the freedom to choose when and where we work. By examining the outdated history of the standard 9 to 5 working week in the light of the modern digital age, the authors lay the foundation for an individualized and autonomous way of working. 

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Workstyle – the idea

Work is an integral part of life. For most of us, it takes up about a third of our time, and forms a pretty significant part of our identity. But the way most of us work – sitting in an office morning ’til evening, interacting with the same coworkers – is based on an age-old tradition. It came into existence with the industrial revolution about 200 years ago. The truth is, this way of working is outdated and unnecessary.

An aging workforce, recent technological advances, and a shift towards more independent working has set the scene for us to fundamentally change the way we think about work. This is where workstyle comes in.

Just like your lifestyle refers to the way you live your life, your workstyle is the freedom to choose when and where you work. It’s based on three principles.

  • Firstly, asynchronous working. This basically means that you do not have to be working at the same time as your colleagues. Maybe you stop working just as your colleague on the other side of the planet wakes up to pick up where you left off.
  • This is made possible by the second principle: digital-first. Everybody works with a computer these days, Wi-Fi is ubiquitous, and recent events have shown that a lot of our work can exist in a digital space. Software like Slack can be our office space. Let’s embrace it.
  • Finally, workstyle relies on a trust-based environment. You need to believe that your coworkers are going to deliver without a boss looking over their shoulder.

Working the workstyle way results in an exciting shift in focus when compared to traditional work. It takes the power to dictate the working day away from the companies and puts it in the hands of the people.

Instead of measuring an employee’s value by the hours they spend in their seat, in front of their computer, it becomes about the outputs they produce, regardless of when or where they do the work. Without the need to share hours and locations with coworkers, people have the freedom to work in the ways that work for them. This idea of autonomy has huge implications for the nature and impact of the work we do.

In the following sections you will see just how much workstyle can improve your wellbeing, and in turn your productivity. But first you need to prepare for the fundamental shift in understanding that workstyle requires. 

Say the word “workstyle” out loud to yourself, or perhaps the cat. How does it feel? Let yourself imagine a world where that word is commonly understood by those around you. Then, describe your current workstyle, starting with “my workstyle is …”. Think about the days and hours you work, when you take breaks and holidays, and the aspects of your life that you fit your work around – picking up kids, chores, hobbies. Chances are you don’t have much control over the specifics of your current workstyle. That’s why it’s time to take a look at the benefits of a world where you do.

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