How Hoxby challenged the 9-5, and created the « workstyle » revolution



When the 8-hour working day was conceived, over 200 years ago, by social reformer Robert Owen, it was gratefully received. Victorian factory workers welcomed the structure of ‘eight hours labour, eight hours recreation and eight hours rest’.

But fast-forward to 2015, when we founded Hoxby, and the world of work was very different. Presenteeism (or the need to be in a physical workplace), lengthy commutes, and productivity measured in terms of hours rather than output were all factors affecting mental health, relationships and quality of life – our own included. 

We decided to start a revolution, and we called it ‘workstyle’.

Workstyle, quite simply, means putting life first, and enabling work to fit around it- a workstyle of your own design, in terms of both when and where your work gets done. It is more than just flexible working, it is agile working. It is smart and inclusive working. Hoxby includes everyone, as long as they have access to wi-fi. 

We believe that workstyle is essential to achieving true work/life balance and thus creating a happier and more fulfilled society.

What’s more, studies* have shown that a workforce empowered through workstyle is more productive, highly motivated and extremely loyal to a business. We see living proof of this within our community and through our client work on a daily basis. We are a meritocracy, we reward results. Each of us loves what we do.

The Hoxby community has grown rapidly; we currently have c1000 Associates in 30 countries and our clients range from global brands to scale up businesses. Each of us is committed to building the workstyle movement.

Advances in technology, of course, are essential to workstyle. At Hoxby we use Slack as our virtual office (we have no physical office whatsoever), and hold meetings via G-meet. We believe that today’s technology means that 85% of office-based jobs could be ‘Hoxbified’.

When Hoxby began, we quickly became a lifeline for working parents and digital nomads, who reaped the benefits of choosing one’s own hours and workplace. However, as the business has grown, we have become an inclusive space for those less able, those with additional needs, carers, older workers and more. All highly talented individuals, who often struggled with the constraints of a traditional workplace, but whose diversity, experiences and brilliance not only enrich our community but strengthen our business and give us a competitive edge. We are extremely proud that Hoxby is a world of work without bias.

At Hoxby we are committed to connecting our community with meaningful work, regardless of how or where it is delivered. We believe that we have the most talented and motivated pool of professionals, and because we work in teams, unlike much of the ‘gig economy’, we are able to engage the best person for each task.

We also recognise that a remote workforce needs to connect and interact at a human level in order to be productive. We encourage non-work conversations via virtual and physical meet-ups, we offer support networks, training and mentoring, and we reward philanthropic behaviour.

Some members of the Hoxby community DO work 9-5. But possibly from the beach. Some might work from 9pm til 5 in the morning (we operate across 30 different timezones in any case) or not at all during school holidays. For others, Hoxby is their ‘side hustle’, or the income that allows them time for other passions, such as volunteering or creative pursuits.

With the workstyle revolution, we are giving the outdated 9-5 concept a much-needed refresh, and we’re refreshing the working lives of a great number of talented people falling out of the traditional workforce.

Alex Hirst and Lizzie Penny, Co-Founders and Joint CEOs, Hoxby. 


*YouGov/HSBC 2019 survey results showed that 89% of UK workers thought flexible work was more productive (



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