The Hoxby Collective & Its Mental Health Cause
Updated: Aug 7, 2019
I wanted to share a little bit about my decision to set up as a consultant.
After working non-stop for the last decade, I hit a bit of a wall last summer. I was experiencing new highs of workload, stress levels and expectations at my old job, and once a particular project came to an end, I crashed. I was unable to get out of bed, with a banging headache, stomach ache and complete loss of energy. The experience threw me – I’ve always done long hours and coped with stressful situations. But the idea that I have a physical limit made me reassess my priorities. I had a few weeks off work to recover, but soon decided to hand in my notice. This was my wake-up call: I didn’t just need a change of environment, but also lifestyle.
Fast forward a few months and I launched my own marketing consulting in January this year, and haven’t looked back. Setting my own schedule for the week, having more time for my daughter and husband, going to the gym several times every week, all whilst getting my work done, has been hugely rewarding.
As part of my freelance journey, I recently joined the Hoxby Collective. In short, Hoxby is a community for freelancers and consultants who work together remotely to deliver brilliant client work. What is truly unique about the organisation is its focus on revolutionizing the way we work, removing the need to be office based, 9-5 at your desk, “always on”, and exclusively working for just one company. Hoxby has 800 members across 30 countries, who set their own working hours, location and desired work.
Hoxby also focuses on a number of important causes, like gender equality, the role of working parents, ageism, and mental health. Based on my own personal experiences, the latter is a cause close to my heart. Organisations like Hoxby are doing an incredible amount to help people like myself achieve a better work-life balance, but also create awareness and discussion on responsibilities for companies to better look after their employees.
Whilst everything about our lives is now mobile, most organisations still insist on employees being office based 9-5pm every day. We are estimated to spend 4 hours on our smartphones every day, receive 120 emails and check our WhatsApp 23 times daily. We are connected to everyone we went to uni with, to school with, our third cousins. My best friend’s dog has an Instagram account. Yet for work, we need to be physically in the same location for a fixed number of hours every day?
The reality is of course that we’re not just at work during our working hours. Because of technology, we are always connected. So we do our 8 hours at work, and spend the rest of our awake time on our phones, replying to emails, answering texts in work WhatsApp groups, and taking “quick” calls. The combination means there is no downtime. No time allocated to refresh your mind or think about other things. Work is constantly interfering with our lives, our dinners with our partners, story time with our kids, time to go to the gym, or just a bit of much needed downtime.
Here is how “Hoxbies” see the world:
Life is too short, and the world is too beautiful, to be fixed to a desk for 8 hours every day. The number of people going freelance and setting up their own businesses is increasing – let’s get these people together, to collaborate on projects and support each other – on their own terms. Hoxby is mainly operated through Slack, where each member can enter their work style (for example, Monday to Wednesday 1-6pm, Thursday 10-2pm, Fridays I do dog walking so won’t be on my phone).
‘Hoxbies’ frequently share pictures of their working locations, from a Thai beach to a mountain in Wales, from coffee shops to parks, from gyms to WeWork. They share about their hobbies, having started knitting, teaching themselves to code, starting to follow the Joe Wix diet. Slack channels like “the water cooler” encourages the type of everyday chat freelancers might miss. It is a community that truly encourages the holy grail of “work-life balance”, and I think most organisations have so much to learn from the approach to work, and looking after employees’ happiness and mental health.
Mental Health has increased in media coverage in recent years, and more companies are starting to develop “Mental Health Policies” or having “Mental Health Champions” for each department. The truth is very little will improve for as long as the changes are marginal. If we want to truly look after our employees, and also embrace the wonderful benefits of our hyper-connected society, a more radical (Hoxby-like) approach is needed.
Fancy joining Hoxby? https://hoxby.com/
Find out more about Mental Health from the wonderful charity “Mind UK”: https://www.mind.org.uk/