Digital Mums Why we need to embrace a new way of working

Why we need to embrace a new way of working

The Hoxby Collective, a global community of talented people who work flexibly, are winners of the inaugural Digital Mums’ #WorkThatWorks Award.  In this blog we hear why the world of work needs to change….

Imagine a world where you never have to miss your child’s sports day. You’re free to meet your friends for brunch. You can take that part-time course you’ve always wanted to do. And best of all, you still get to do the job you love, and you’re judged purely on the quality of your work, rather than if you’re at your desk between 9-5, Monday-Friday. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

200 years ago, life for the working class was tough with unsustainable working hours, generally up to 16 hours a day being the norm. And so the 9-5 working day was introduced by Robert Owen, a Victorian social reformer who coined the slogan; “Eight hours labour, Eight hours recreation, Eight hours rest”. Undoubtedly, 200 years ago this revolutionary movement brought positive changes to society and secured workers rights. Since then, society and advancements in technology mean our lives are unrecognisable from 1917. So why do so many employers still believe that the only way to demonstrate you’re doing a great job is by travelling to an office and being present for a rigid 8 hours per day?  

Over the years, the world has moved on and we now question if this mindset is still the best approach to work. Our lifestyles have changed, but our way of working hasn’t. We have seen the introduction of flexible working policies which is a positive move, but unfortunately not always fully embraced by employers. Niki Shefras, now freelance consultant and Associate at The Hoxby Collective, admitted of her experience; ‘The hardest thing was working for a boss who believed that your presence in the office, whether it was productive for you to be there or not, was the most important thing.’  So, despite some changes for the better, it still isn’t enough. Rigid working hours still aren’t reflective of the challenges of juggling a career, family life and all the other demands that go with living in today’s world.

A recent study demonstrated that the freelance workforce grew at a rate 3 times faster than the U.S. workforce overall since 2014, showing that people are quickly starting to abandon traditional employment in search of a workstyle that fully meets their individual needs. A workstyle that allows them to live happier and more fulfilled lives, without having to compromise on their careers.

The Hoxby Collective commissioned a worldwide survey this year to investigate the true cost of presenteeism on our productivity and happiness and a staggering 40% of talent told us that they had left traditional employment to pursue a flexible work-life. Not surprising when strict working hours contributed to mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, depression and insomnia in 33% of respondents. The survey also reported that employers still have a long way to go to be truly flexible. 62% of respondents believed that presenteeism was ingrained in the culture of organisations with 44% feeling that negative comments were made about part-time or flexible workers.

The good news is that the world of work is starting to change. Advancements in technology, wi-fi speeds and communication channels mean you really can work flexibly from wherever you want in the world. 88% of our survey respondents reported that by working flexibly, they are now more efficient, happier, focused, and motivated.

Digital Mums Why we need to embrace a new way of working
Lizzie Penny and Alex Hirst, the Hoxby Collective founders

So, if you too are ready to ditch 9-5 living and #lovewhatyoudo, here are some top tips from our Hoxby Associates for making the move to freelancing.

Find your passion

“Keep a diary for 3-6 months and note your daily ups and downs to see if you can identify what it is that you enjoying doing during the day and what brings you down.” - Fiona Chow, PR Consultant

Work out a good exit strategy from your current job and make sure you’re financially secure.

“The time between setting yourself up in your new workstyle and generating income may not be as quick as you would like! There will be times when the irregular income can produce anxiety but in those moments just keep going, keep building and it will eventually prove fruitful.” - Niki Shefras, Business Consultant

Don’t tire yourself out trying to get everything ready immediately

“You’ll feel that you should have everything ready and in place before you start working. Not so. Try starting with a miniature Wordpress portfolio website that gives some digital presence and use the close-knit network you have to generate new business.” - Phil Bennett, Creative Director & Designer

Learn to ride the rollercoaster.

“There will be times when you’ll earn more in a day than you used to earn in a week. There will be other times when it takes you a month to earn what you did in a week. You need to be able to ride the highs and lows.” - Kate Duggan, Copywriter


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