Question for you, what’s your style?
Still not sure what I’m talking about? That’s ok, let me explain...
We all know the type of lifestyle that we would like. The one to which we aspire, work hard towards, and pursue to be happy.
It could be to have a relaxed lifestyle in the countryside, or a busy social life in the city. Each lifestyle is personal and can outwardly project our personas and attitudes.
Our lifestyle determines how we operate when we’re not working & we are able to tailor our lifestyles to suit our goals, situations or demands.
But what about when we are working? Should we not be able to determine our own #workstyle?
A workstyle is defined as ‘the way in which somebody integrates their occupation into their life.’
The part that jumps out here, is the acknowledgment that the person integrates their work into their lifestyle; and not the other way around.
It sounds simple, and it is. But it’s a big shift to make.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “live to work, or work to live”, and can immediately think of people who fall into both categories. You may even think of your own situation:
I would like to say that it is a clear cut as the phrase suggests, but unfortunately this is not true. Technology has severely disrupted almost every industry and the workforce is no exception.
The ‘good old days’ whereby you had a job for life are gone.
No longer are companies offering final salary pensions, job security and the promise of a good career by sticking with one company.
The introduction of generational change (don’t just blame the Millennials here) and digital disruption, have shaken the principles of working life to the core.
You may think I’m being over dramatic here, but I want to really emphasise the point: what used to work “back then”, does not necessarily work now. And your working practice is exactly the same.
There has been an exodus of talented individuals from established jobs, often well paid, in search of a more fulfilling life and better work/life balance. This is well documented.
The Millennial generation get the blame for this, but as I have written about previously, this is wholly unfair and inaccurate. The Millennial generation have become the poster children for change and embracing new ways; working is no different.
The pursuit of a more fulfilling life and work that matters, meant people shunned the ‘normal’ career route in favour of portfolio careers and the ability to build in work around their life.
This used to be considered a pipe dream, but is fast becoming a reality.
Just look at the number of gig economy, freelance, and contract workers who work on their own terms and, quite often, not from an office.
What these trail blazing pioneers have done, is define their own workstyle to build the life they want.
There are naturally some challenges to this; the ‘corporate’ world rejects change far too easily and can cast the Millennial movement to one side. Flexible working (the ethos of workstyle in a different form), is no longer just the ownership of returning mothers from maternity leave.
Fathers and senior executives are just 2 examples of people who have embraced the workstyle movement.
Once you have experienced the ability to ‘do what you love’ on your own terms and without having to commute or be in an office, your whole perspective changes.
Of course, freelancing is not for everyone. The traits required to be able to deal with uncertainty and lack of structure mean some will embrace it, whilst others will flounder. And that’s ok.
The major point of this article is to provoke the question, “what do you want your workstyle to be?”
I’ve had my eyes opened to a better workstyle since embracing the freelance career route and enjoying a contract which operated on 3 days a week. My workstyle immediately changed from the rigid 9am to 5pm, to a ‘do what you need to do, when you need to do it’ basis.
I would work in the evenings, so i could enjoy the day time for business development, going to the gym or personal learning. My workstyle became a reflection of me, and not enforced by a corporate beast, because it was dictated to us that way decades ago.
We all know that the traditional working day is not the most productive use of our time. Commuting, pointless meetings, presenteeism have all become productivity black holes and energy sappers. Add to this, 70% of people do a job they don’t enjoy, and you ask the question, WHY?
I know there are financial considerations and being caught in the endless loop of pay cheque to pay cheque is not fun at all. But what if there was an alternative? What if there was another way?
Companies are beginning to wise up to the fact, they need to change their attitudes to working. Highly talented and skilled individuals are no longer solely attracted by large salaries and the measly 25 day holiday allowance. If companies can not attract these people, how are they going to bring in the best talent?
The incorporation of freelance workers into a traditional workforce is a major challenge. Historically there has been a “them” and “us” divide, with freelancers treated as a disposable resource and 2nd class citizen.
But no longer...
The acceptance of having your own workstyle means companies can attract individuals by allowing them to work remotely, build work in around their lives and continue to tap into an incredible resource pool.
This is evident from the large ‘futureproofing our business’ and ‘workforce of the future’ initiatives. Hugely established multinationals are now realising something needs to be done. Because if you get it right, the person working for you (not an employee!) will be happier and do better work.
And we all want that, don’t we?
Not so long ago, I joined The Hoxby Collective, which at the time of writing, has over 450 members across 29 countries. The reason for telling you this, is each and every single one of them, has defined their own workstyle.
Many of these talented individuals are not Millennials, who conform to the wrong stereotype of swanning off around the world to enjoy life. They are professional men and women who wanted to work on their own terms.
The Collective is the brain child of Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst, who had a vision for a better working world. They saw a better way, with people doing what they love and defining their own #workstyle. They also practice what they preach.
It only takes a few moments listening to the story of how Hoxby was born, to realise that they are leading the charge on changing the world of work.
I’ve really enjoyed meeting other people of a similar mindset across a wide range of industries. It brings creativity, a sense of community and a support network. But most importantly, it shows that you don’t have to conform to traditional working practice, if you don’t want to. There are others who believe in the same things you do.
Sadly, decisions are not as binary as we would like; changing your current situation to something different is hard. But it is possible.
The question is how badly do you want it?
If I said to you, that by defining your own workstyle, you could increase your productivity and happiness, would you be willing to give it a go? / Do you want to stay in the corporate grind working to someone else’s rules, or would you like to increase your happiness and do what you love?
There is always a choice.
I fully accept there are nuances with each persons situation. I’m not going to tell you to quit tomorrow with nothing to go to, far from it (I’ve done that, for future reference!).
I’m hoping to raise is the question of “what if”?
By accepting that there are alternative ways, you can open your mind to change. And change can be good.
But It is also perfectly acceptable to stay as you are.
I just don’t want you to miss out on being able to define who you are from a working perspective. You can start this thought process now. It may lead to a conversation with your boss tomorrow.
Because just imagine, how happy you would be if you could change your workstyle to reflect you.
After all, if you don’t ask, you won’t get.
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