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Summary: Workstyle: A revolution for wellbeing, productivity and society by Alex Hirst and Lizzie Penny

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 By examining the outdated history of the standard 9 to 5 working week in the light of the modern digital age, the authors lay the foundation for an individualized and autonomous way of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.


Imagine that you control how, when and where you work. Now imagine that the sole measure of your performance is the quality of your output. “Workstyle” – the brainchild of Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst, co-founders of social enterprise Hoxby – is an autonomous and individualized approach to work that promotes well-being, boosts productivity and empowers people to work in accordance with their personal circumstances. The time is ripe to abandon the obsolete nine-to-five world, join the workstyle revolution, and foment a better way of working that corresponds to progress in technology and society.


  • A workstyle that aligns with your personal circumstances, priorities and passions enhances your well-being and increases your productivity.
  • The eight-hour workday is an obsolete vestige of the industrial age.
  • The time is ripe to discard the shackles of traditional employment in favor of an individualized approach.
  • Autonomy can be a double-edged sword, so create the right conditions for employee freedom.
  • Workstyle promotes well-being via five pathways: “mind, purpose, learning, connection and body.”
  • Individualized work boosts productivity across five elements: “energy, clarity, mastery, trust and environment.”
  • Workstyle has the power to transform lives and drive human advancement.

Book Summary: Workstyle - A revolution for wellbeing, productivity and society

Introduction: Join the workstyle revolution and create a brighter future.

Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst created the word workstyle in 2015. They wanted to give everyone the freedom to choose when and where they work, and they started a company called Hoxby to make it happen. Hoxby delivers projects for some of the biggest businesses in the world and has helped more than 2,500 people to set, project and respect their own workstyles. Later, after the pandemic, people wanted to learn about how the authors worked. Seeing the opportunity, Penny and Hirst decided to write Workstyle. A revolution for wellbeing, productivity and society.

It starts with the assumption that the 9 to 5 working day is a relic of the industrial revolution – now more than 200 years old. Even the more recent so-called “flexible” working hours are based around this archaic working structure. In this digital age, with changing global attitudes to work and an aging demographic, we need to move past these centuries-old habits. It’s time for a change.

Workstyle rewards workers for the output they produce – not the hours they record at their desk. It’s grounded in the principles of asynchronous work, a digital-first focus, and trust-based working environments. The autonomy of workstyle can be transformative for many people, but in particular for those groups excluded by the traditional way of working: older workers, parents, carers, those living with a disability, suffering from a chronic illness or mental health challenges, or those who are neurodivergent.

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.

Workstyle helps you be well

Imagine you are visited by a curious alien who asks you to explain your average workday. If you are like a large portion of the working populations, you would tell them that you force yourself awake with a loud beeping before the sun has come up, then leave your warm house and loved ones to sit on a crowded train which will take you to an artificially lit office building where you will sit relatively still for the next ten hours while using your phone and laptop to interact with others who aren’t even in the same location as you. When the natural light outside is nearly gone, you leave this building, return home to spend a few short hours with your family, then go to bed so you can wake up and do it all again.

Shocked, and maybe a little confused, the alien may ask you: is it good for you? Take a moment to think about your answer.

The research shows that work has a huge influence on our wellbeing. There are nearly one billion people living with mental health disorders, and work is a major contributor. What can workstyle do to change this?

Quite a lot, actually. The freedom to customize and fit your work to your needs removes the pressure to conform. This leaves you to live and work as your authentic self, improving both confidence and satisfaction.

Creating your own workstyle allows you to set boundaries in your life, which lets you focus on letting in the aspects of work that give you positive energy. The beauty of this is that it allows you to shape your schedule around things that are important for you. This means you can live a healthier lifestyle. Maybe you want to prepare a nice meal instead of grabbing a sandwich on the run. Or perhaps you’d prefer to go for a morning jog before getting down to work. Workstyle lets you work in the way that is best for you.

Workstyle puts you in charge of your own life. Because you aren’t trapped by the conventional “when” and “where” of a 9 to 5 job, you are free to do more of the things you love. You can choose to work in a way which fulfills your own sense of purpose.

An example of this is the ability to change your work to fit the different phases of your life. Whether you’re moving house, recovering from an illness, or having a child, workstyle will always protect your ability to stick to your purpose in life. And this means that you can live a life full of work that you can be proud of. You can stop living your life to fill out a CV, focusing on achievements and promotions. You can start thinking of the legacy you will leave behind.

A key part of living your life the way you want is having the freedom to develop and grow in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling. The opportunity to learn is a huge factor in work satisfaction, and the lack of it is a major factor in leaving a job. But even so, companies usually only offer learning opportunities related to the values of the business. What if we had the freedom to choose how and what we learn?

Being confined to an office severely limits the variety of perspectives we’re exposed to. The digital-first nature of workstyle means you don’t have to be restricted to only connecting with those who are physically there. It opens up the opportunity to interact with and learn from people all over the world, on topics that are meaningful to you.

Just like we work in different ways, we also learn in different ways. Do you take in more information in a crowded lecture hall, studying quietly by yourself, or simply watching a 15-minute TED talk? Workstyle lets you build your schedule around fitting in whatever method of learning works for you.

But it is important to remember that workstyle is built on accountability. It is up to the individual workstyler to decide when and how they work, and this freedom extends to learning. If no one is going to be telling you what you need to do, you have to be purposeful in designing and enabling your own growth.

Being in charge of your own work, life, and learning means the burden is on you to set and meet goals, book classes, and plan the direction of your development. Like a sunflower that knows to face the sun, you can grow in a way that is purposeful and meaningful to you.

You can start using these workstyle principles to improve your physical and mental health right now! First, identify areas where you think work is getting in the way of your wellbeing. Then ask yourself, does it have to be this way? Book yourself a mid-morning exercise class during a working day, and see what effect it has on your mood and energy levels. Try scheduling more activities throughout the day which fill you with positivity. You’d be surprised what adding a little variety to your working day can do for your health.

Now that it’s clear that workstyle can greatly improve your wellbeing, it’s time to have a look at how it can improve what is essentially at the core of any successful career: productivity.

Workstyle helps you work better

When are you most productive? Maybe you’re a morning person who gets everything done before the rest of the house is awake. Or maybe you can’t really get going until you’ve done a morning exercise and finished some small tasks, getting in front of your computer a bit before lunch. Productivity is a personal thing. Everyone works differently. So, why should we be content with a system of work that lumps everybody in together?

Being productive is all about energy – where you get it from and where you channel it. Over a 24-hour period, our energy levels naturally rise and fall. This is a result of our personal circadian rhythm which regulates our body temperature – and consequently when we are most productive.

Having predefined work hours places importance on being present rather than productive. What’s the point of working from 9 to 5 if you’re only doing your best work for the first or last couple of hours? Workstyle lets the night owls and early birds do their thing when their energy levels are at their optimum, resulting in increased productivity across the board.

Being in control of how and when you deliver your work allows for a level of clarity and dedication that the traditional working week just doesn’t permit. When you know what works best for you, you can do the best for your work.

Do you do your best work around other people, bouncing ideas back and forth? Great! Or do you prefer to get into the zone by putting on your favorite playlist and hunkering down in your room? Also great. Workstyle gives you the freedom to find your groove and focus on the task at hand.

Finding this clarity also means giving yourself the space to tune out and let your mind wander. A lot of people find themselves coming up with new ideas or solving problems while doing household chores like folding the laundry. It’s said that over 70% of people have their most creative ideas in the shower. By controlling your environment and incorporating these kinds of activities into your workstyle, you can optimize your productivity.

Another way workstyle improves productivity is through trust. The truth is, we are more trusting than ever these days. Twenty years ago, it would have been unimaginable to let a stranger stay in your house, or jump into a car with a man you’ve never met, but this is exactly what companies like Airbnb and Uber allow and encourage us to do.

There’s no reason to think that this same level of trust can’t exist between coworkers. This heightened sense of trust actually empowers workers and increases productivity. Because with workstyle, accountability is key. If there is an expected output due at a certain time, it’s the responsibility of everyone involved to make sure that it is delivered. This puts the focus on the work produced rather than the hours recorded.

This implicit trust increases the opportunity for collaboration and cooperation. Different workstyles can mesh, complimenting each other. Imagine finishing your part of a project at the end of your workstyle day, and sending it to a colleague on the other side of the world just as she is starting her day. Now that’s efficiency!

You can already start bringing this kind of trust into your working life. Reflect on how trust and accountability exist in your company. Next time you find yourself introducing a new project, or managing a team, try giving some freedom for when and where the work is delivered. You may be surprised to find how much this increases productivity, by empowering workers to think for themselves and focus on the outputs. Just make sure you lead by example, and take accountability for your own work.

Now that you see the benefits workstyle has for productivity, it’s time to think bigger. Can workstyle improve society as a whole, and change the world?

Workstyle helps you do good

Let yourself imagine a world where workstyle is the norm. You set up your computer at the local café after completing your exercise and chores for the morning, knowing that the next few hours will be your most productive. Maybe you schedule a meeting with your colleague from Australia, who’s just put their kids to bed. You reply to a few messages from your Argentinian colleague for them to read in a couple of hours.

Hopefully you can already see how this kind of workstyle can benefit your wellbeing, and consequently your productivity. But it’s important to realize that the implications don’t stop at the individual. Workstyle can have a lasting positive impact on society as a whole.

At the moment, there are many groups of people who are excluded from the traditional 9 to 5 working day. These could be individuals living with physical or mental disabilities, those with chronic illness, the aging population, or busy parents.

Think of the autistic person who has trouble working in a crowded office, or the wheelchair user who finds the daily commute a battle. Imagine the amount of talent that could be accessed if these meaningless barriers were removed.

Discrimination at work is also a major problem that can be addressed by workstyle. Despite recent social progress, discrimination on the basis of gender, race, sexuality and much more is tragically common. The asynchronous, individualized nature of workstyle means that workers are empowered to keep or share details of themselves as they see fit. When we’re not in the same room, it’s easier to talk to people as individuals, rather than making assumptions or jumping to conclusions. This would go a long way to eliminating descrimination in the workforce, and making sure everyone can work together.

Finally, working in a workstyle way creates a collective intelligence that could potentially solve the world’s most complex problems. It’s no secret that humanity is facing some major challenges, on a global scale. Humans have a tendency to group into like-minded tribes, which is seen pretty clearly in current recruitment processes – organizations value “fitting” with the company culture over diversity.

Workstyle enables and encourages more diversity, and creates an environment where these diverse minds can work together. In these conditions, it is safe for individuals to challenge the status quo, and take more risks when solving complex problems. It’s been shown that arguing about how to solve a problem in a cooperative team leads to greater work outcomes and financial performance for companies.

And the benefits of this extend beyond helping organizations. Large-scale human collaboration is already solving some of the world’s most common problems. For example, the navigation app Waze is crowdsourcing information on road accidents, hazards or speed traps to reduce traffic; and the Breadline app lets people report leftover bread at bakeries, helping food be redistributed to those who need it.

Workstyle brings more people together, and gives them the opportunity to solve problems in ways that traditional work structures just don’t allow. By opening things up to more of the world’s brains, workstyle can have a huge impact on areas such as health and wellbeing, gender equality, and economic growth.


A workstyle that aligns with your personal circumstances, priorities and passions enhances your well-being and increases your productivity.

Deciding how, when and where you want to work is extremely liberating. For people juggling caregiving and career, dealing with mental or physical challenges, or simply needing more time to do the activities they love, customizing a work system is transformational.

“What if everyone could be judged on their output rather than when and where they work? What if there was a word not loaded with prejudice like…‘part-timer’ or ‘flex pest’ that everyone could use to describe their individual way of working? What if we had a work equivalent to designing your own lifestyle? What’s your ‘workstyle’?”

In 2014, authors Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst each underwent life-altering experiences, which brought them to the same conclusion: The traditional way of work is obsolete. Motherhood led Penny to recognize how the inflexible nine-to-five work culture denied a fulfilling career to people who aren’t in a position to conform to work norms. A complicated pregnancy in 2017 confirmed the appeal of “workstyle,” a term the duo coined to describe a new individualized way of working. Penny and Hirst launched Hoxby, a social enterprise, to verify the feasibility of the new paradigm. When doctors diagnosed Penny with breast cancer in 2020, and she underwent chemotherapy, workstyle became her refuge; she could contribute according to how she felt on any given day. Her journey through parenting, illness, a global pandemic and a cross-country move proved how workstyle can bend to accommodate life’s changes and surprises.

For many years, Hirst slogged at a start-up that rewarded presenteeism. He spent 10 hours commuting to the office each week. Initially, he found the pace and long hours exhilarating. Alas, the unrelenting schedule took a toll on his mental health. He grew despondent and felt disconnected. Starting Hoxby with Penny, and adopting workstyle, was a turning point. As his mental health improved, Hirst and his wife, Sarah, became parents, traveled the world and moved to the countryside. Workstyle allows him to be present for his family’s milestones. He continues to modify his workstyle to adapt to life’s changes and challenges.

The eight-hour workday is an obsolete vestige of the industrial age.

The eight-hour workday is a 200-year-old construct developed by Sir Robert Owen, a progressive social reformer. Owen theorized that an optimal day should consist of eight hours’ labor, eight hours’ sleep, and eight hours’ recreation. He tested this concept in his cotton mill. In the early 1900s, Henry Ford popularized the 40-hour workweek, and benefits such as work holidays and safe work practices became the norm over time. However, the nine-to-five, five-day workweek has outlived its usefulness.

“It’s mind-boggling when you think about all the progress we’ve made over the past two centuries that we haven’t taken greater leaps forward in the way we work.”

In the 1930s, industrialist W.K. Kellogg introduced the idea of flexible working by shortening shifts from eight to six hours, a decision he reversed after World War II. To reduce traffic during peak commute times, some companies in West Germany in the 1960s allowed workers to begin and end their workday within certain time frames. The flexible work approach slowly infiltrated corporate America. Today, people tout the benefits of flexible working, but the paradigm isn’t sufficiently radical to elicit true disruption; flexing rarely amounts to more than a slight variation of the five-day, 40-hour workweek. Moreover, only a limited number of people have access to flexible work, creating a chasm between the haves and have-nots. And flex workers who work remotely often feel excluded, overlooked or less valued than their in-office counterparts.

The time is ripe to discard the shackles of traditional employment in favor of an individualized approach.

By 2014, while Penny and Hirst were undergoing major life changes, three social trends – “an aging population, technological advancements and the increase in independent work” – were converging, creating the right conditions for disrupting the status quo. Life expectancies have increased. Most workers will outlive mandatory retirement ages, yet few have accumulated enough savings to see them through their golden years. Nations will struggle to fund pensions and social care for the growing elderly cohort. Thus, finding ways to allow older workers to remain in the workforce is imperative. Meanwhile, advances in digital and mobile technologies, as well as access to high-speed internet, has untethered workers from the office. This freedom has bred independent work, as increasingly more people are freelancing, creating portfolio careers, participating in the sharing economy, monetizing talents or becoming entrepreneurs.

“In 2014, we saw the opportunity to stop thinking of work as a place we went and to start thinking of it as a thing we did, whenever and wherever we could access Wi-Fi or find space for our laptops.”

These converging trends inspired Penny and Hirst to coin the word “workstyle,” which they define as, “the freedom to choose when and where you will work.” They built Hoxby upon a culture of workstyle. Penny and Hirst soon learned that this revolutionary approach to work relied on three conditions:

  1. “Asynchronous working” – When people work in accordance with their preferred schedules, unnecessary meetings vanish. Employees foster patience as they quit expecting immediate responses. Cloud-hosted shared documents let colleagues work seamlessly and asynchronously.
  2. “A digital-first mentality” – Participants commit to working and collaborating via digital tools such as Slack and Google Suite.
  3. “A trust-based culture” – When staff members share mutual trust and assess one another’s work according to quality of output, communication improves, and transparency and openness reign.

Autonomy can be a double-edged sword, so create the right conditions for employee freedom.

Workstyle, simply put, is work autonomy. Research supports the benefits of greater autonomy: It increases employees’ feelings of well-being, engagement and job satisfaction, which, in turn, boosts productivity; it reduces staff turnover, stress and burnout; and it boosts efficiency, since workers spend less time commuting, and their physical remoteness compels them to communicate clearly.

Occasionally, however, autonomy can have negative outcomes. Some fully autonomous employees struggle to strike a healthy work-life balance; they become overwhelmed and unable to switch off from work. To benefit from full autonomy, you must satisfy two conditions: First, be cognizant of your responsibility to your work and of your self-defined workstyle. Reject projects that require more of your time than you can feasibly dedicate. Second, autonomy must be your choice. If it’s foisted upon you, it’s not true freedom.

Workstyle promotes well-being via five pathways: “mind, purpose, learning, connection and body.”

Achieving well-being is one of the basic goals of human endeavor. Yet despite enormous social and technological progress, individuals are no happier today than they were decades ago. A workstyle that aligns with your individuality is a sure path to a happy, fulfilling and well-balanced life.

“When we feel we can really be ourselves and are recognized for the individual contributions we make, we are happier.”

Workstyle engenders well-being through the following five avenues:

  1. Mind – Research by the World Health Organization found that as many as one billion people suffer from some kind of mental disorder, and nearly one in six ascribe their malady to their work. Workstyle promotes better mental health because people are their authentic selves while on the job; they don’t mask to conform. Workstyle also measures success in terms of output rather than time tethered to a computer. This de-emphasis on presenteeism alleviates the need to work long hours to prove oneself – a leading cause of burnout. Lastly, customizing the conditions by which you work enables you to channel your energy into your innate inspirations and inclinations.
  2. Purpose – When your work aligns with your values, you experience high levels of satisfaction. Workstylers opt to work for organizations that share their priorities and connect to their sense of purpose. Even through life’s ups and downs, your purpose informs your work choices and keeps you on the right path. When you contribute to something meaningful, you build a legacy that is a source of pride.
  3. Learning – Workstylers have control over how, when and from whom they learn. Collaborating and interacting with people from different places and cultures with an array of diverse perspectives and experiences promotes personal growth. Additionally, with work autonomy, people pursue bespoke learning based on their personal learning style and level of knowledge. Greater learning accountability equates to greater motivation to learn.
  4. Connection – When your work fits around your life, you have more time to connect with the people you love. Moreover, workstylers forge deep connections with their colleagues due to their collaborative rather than competitive work environment. And workstylers build strong digital and asynchronous connections with people from all over the world. The sense of anonymity of working remotely reduces social anxiety and fosters thoughtful, supportive interactions. With workstyle, you choose if, how and when you want to connect with others.
  5. Body – Traditional work often involves sitting for long periods, which can lead to chronic health issues such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Workstyle untethers you from your desk, offering you the freedom to take control of what you eat, and of when and how you exercise.

Individualized work boosts productivity across five elements: “energy, clarity, mastery, trust and environment.”

Extensive research confirms that work autonomy positively correlates with productivity. Workstyle allows individuals to tailor their work to support their personal preferences and circumstances, thus increasing the quality of their output.

“The more that we feel we are in control of the work we do, the more we will be motivated to throw our energy into it.”

Workstyle boosts productivity in five ways:

  1. Energy – Don’t conform to a traditional work schedule. Understand when your energy and productivity peak. Perhaps you perform best in the morning, or maybe you’re a night owl. Harness your energy to work when it suits you best, and surround yourself with the people who fill, rather than drain, your energy reserves. Trying to remain productive during times of high stress or to fit in all of life’s responsibilities outside working hours is often impractical. If you give your working and nonworking responsibilities equal weight, you’ll accomplish more.
  2. Clarity – Traditional work, replete with meetings and unreasonable deadlines, prevents you from performing with optimal clarity. Get into a flow state by working during your peak energy periods. Carry out “deep” work that requires effort and concentration during cognitive highs, and “shallow” work, such as responding to routine emails, when your energy is low. Take time away from work to daydream or get lost in menial tasks. Such downtime grants your unconscious mind the freedom to make valuable connections.
  3. Mastery – Achieving excellence takes time and practice, and workstyle grants that flexibility. With mastery comes increased productivity, because you’re motivated to apply your skills to reach a goal or solve a problem. Workstylers devote time toward acquiring new expertise or honing existing skills, even during life’s ups and downs. They focus on areas that align with their passions and purpose.
  4. Trust – Assessing workers’ value by the quality of their contribution, rather than their time spent working, signals a high level of trust, which empowers workers to do their best work. Trust elevates workers’ commitment to accountability and enables cooperation. Moreover, employees reciprocate trust as they work toward a shared goal. Honest and transparent communication boost teamwork, regardless of cultural, language or time-zone differences.
  5. Environment – Workstyle lets you do your job in the place that inspires your best work, be it a cabin in the woods or a bespoke home office. Since most work is now technology-enabled, you must take charge of your digital environment to reduce distractions.

Workstyle has the power to transform lives and drive human advancement.

In the 1990s, economist Mahbub ul Haq developed the Human Development Approach, which measures societal success in terms of individual well-being. Within this framework, workstyle has a positive effect on society, because the freedom and autonomy it allows improves the lives of individuals, generates more opportunities, and empowers people to follow their own paths.

“Workstyle can bring the scale of change needed to begin to resolve our many interconnected challenges as a society.”

Workstyle can transform lives and drive human advancement in myriad ways. Three hypotheses support this proposition:

  1. Inclusion – Traditional work excludes whole swaths of society, including the differently abled, people with mental health issues or chronic illness, caregivers and parents, older adults, and the neurodiverse. Workstyle creates the inclusive conditions for all individuals to fit work around their unique circumstances. It addresses prejudices and misconceptions, and it removes barriers, such as requiring on-site presence and specific work hours, enabling people from these groups to participate fully in work.
  2. Attitudes – One-third of UK workers have experienced discrimination at work. Traditional work rewards people for conforming with the majority rather than for their output and competency. Workstyle facilitates inclusion and tackles inequality through asynchronous and remote work that doesn’t require employees to reveal their age, gender, sexuality, or other characteristics. If individuals choose to share personal details, they do so in a space of psychological safety.
  3. Intelligence – Research shows that groups of cognitively diverse people are more collectively intelligent than homogenous teams. Workstyle welcomes diversity in thinking. It creates an environment in which individuals feel comfortable offering contrary opinions without fear of reprisal. This freedom to challenge the status quo, question assumptions and embrace differences of opinion is what enables people to solve some of the world’s most complex problems.

Conclusion: Workstyle can change the world

What we think of as “normal” for our work doesn’t have to be like this. We are currently in a better position than ever to improve our well-being and productivity by embracing the digital-first, asynchronous, trust-based principles of workstyle.

Workstyle can give us the opportunity and attitude to work together and become more than the sum of our parts. But just like any revolution, it needs support and momentum. That’s where you come in. Just by listening to this summary you have taken the first step towards changing the world. Now you need to keep it going.

Be aware of your own workstyle. Let people know about it, and make sure it is respected. Encourage others to create their own, and get conversations going amongst your friends and in your workplace. Workstyle improves your wellbeing. Wellbeing improves productivity. And the inclusion Workstyle creates can change the world.

And here’s some more actionable advice: Create your own workstyle plan.

Create a document clearly and specifically outlining your personal workstyle. Take into account when you are at your highest and lowest energy throughout the day. Note what kinds of people and environments you are most productive and happy around. Dedicate space for non work related activities, such as exercise and family time and then fit your workstyle around them. When you have your completed workstyle document, compare it to what your actual working week looks like. What can you do to make it more in-line with your ideal workstyle? Encourage your friends and coworkers to do the same, and help build the momentum of the workstyle revolution.

About the author

Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst are friends, entrepreneurs, and changemakers. Lizzie has three young children, lives in Bristol, and has recently recovered from breast cancer. Alex suffered from debilitating burnout, before starting a family and leaving London for a village in rural Oxfordshire. Together they came up with the concept of workstyle (in the pub) in response to their negative experiences of a 9-5 traditional working week. Workstyle is a new word to describe the complete freedom to choose when and where you work.

They co-founded now multi-million pound social enterprise Hoxby in 2014 to test and prove the concept of workstyle and have since helped thousands of workstylers around the world to set, project and respect their own workstyles. They have set up their own longitudinal research study into the link between autonomy, productivity and wellbeing and have delivered projects for some of the biggest businesses in the world including Unilever, Amazon, AIA, and Merck. have described them as ‘creating the freelance revolution 3.0’ and they have been featured in the FT, Times, Telegraph, Stylist, Marie Claire, Metro and The Guardian, among others.

Between them they have been shortlisted for awards by the Institute of Directors, Social Enterprise UK, the RSA and the National Business Women’s Awards as well as being awarded ‘Top 50 advocates for equality in Marketing & Media’ by DIMA, and the #WorkThatWorks Award at the Women In Marketing awards. Everything they do is in pursuit of having a positive impact on the world through changing the way people work.

Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst are friends, entrepreneurs, changemakers and authors. They have led the workstyle revolution for a decade. They co-founded Hoxby in 2014 to prove the concept and now consult to others wishing to work this way. They have helped thousands of workstylers to set, project and respect their own workstyles, and they are researching the link between autonomy, productivity and well-being.


Productivity, Corporate Culture, Career Success, Vocational Guidance, Career Guides


Workstyle: A Revolution for Wellbeing, Productivity, and Society by Alex Hirst and Lizzie Penny is a thought-provoking and insightful book that explores the evolving landscape of work and offers practical strategies for achieving a better work-life balance, improving productivity, and creating positive societal impact. The authors present a compelling argument for reimagining work in the modern world and provide valuable guidance for individuals and organizations seeking to embrace this new workstyle.

The book begins by addressing the challenges faced by many individuals today, such as burnout, stress, and the blurring boundaries between work and personal life. Hirst and Penny argue that the traditional 9-to-5, office-centric model of work is no longer sustainable and propose a fresh approach that prioritizes holistic wellbeing and work-life integration. They introduce the concept of “workstyle,” which encompasses not only the tasks and responsibilities of work but also the values, purpose, and overall experience associated with it.

One of the strengths of this book is its emphasis on individual agency and empowerment. The authors encourage readers to reflect on their own workstyle preferences, values, and goals, and provide practical exercises and frameworks to guide this self-discovery process. By understanding their unique strengths and motivations, individuals can design a workstyle that aligns with their personal needs and fosters a sense of fulfillment and purpose.

Hirst and Penny also explore the role of organizations in shaping workstyles. They argue that businesses need to adopt a more flexible and inclusive approach, allowing employees to have greater autonomy over their work and personal lives. The authors provide numerous case studies and real-life examples of companies that have successfully implemented innovative workstyle practices, highlighting the positive impact on employee engagement, productivity, and overall organizational performance.

Throughout the book, the authors emphasize the importance of workstyle in creating a positive societal impact. They discuss the potential of work to contribute to wider social issues, such as environmental sustainability and community development. By aligning work with personal values and societal needs, individuals and organizations can become agents of positive change and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable future.

The writing style of Workstyle is engaging and accessible, making complex concepts and ideas easy to understand. The book is well-structured, with each chapter building upon the previous ones, creating a cohesive and logical flow. The authors provide a balance between research and practical insights, drawing upon academic studies as well as their own experiences working with individuals and organizations.

However, one potential limitation of this book is the focus on the Western perspective of work. While the principles and strategies discussed are undoubtedly applicable to a broad range of individuals and organizations, the authors could have further explored the nuances and cultural variations of workstyles across different regions and contexts.

In conclusion, Workstyle: A Revolution for Wellbeing, Productivity, and Society is a compelling and timely book that challenges traditional notions of work and offers a roadmap for creating a more fulfilling and sustainable work-life balance. Hirst and Penny provide valuable insights, practical advice, and inspiring examples that will resonate with individuals and organizations seeking to reimagine work in the modern world. By embracing the concepts and strategies presented in this book, readers have the opportunity to transform their workstyle and contribute to a healthier, more productive, and socially responsible society.

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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