Lessons from Annie Auerbach…Flex: a flexible approach to work, life and everything

We have heard from some fantastic speakers during our time hosting Broad Minded events, but Annie Auerbach was certainly one of the most articulate and witty! During the morning we learned that the ability to build flexibility into your life comes in many guises and the flex experience is totally personal for each individual but here are the key takeaways from Annie’s discussion:

  1. We need a systemic change that supports flex life – but how? Challenge “hustle porn”, machoism and presenteeism in your workplace. Use technology to your advantage. Can you be remote for meetings? Are conversations best had on Slack?
  2. Trust is crucial. Working culture that supports flex is high trust and believes employees won’t shirk.
  3. If you are working flexibly, embrace flex life and be open about it. Don’t be secretive about it. Openness will help to educate your team and challenge “flexism” bias (equating flexible working with a lack of productivity, overlooking for promotions etc.)
  4. Asking for flex in an inflexible work place. Be honest with yourself about what you want and what you can achieve. Think about the business case  and frame the benefits for the team as well as the employer brand e.g. attracts new talent, increases retention loyalty.
  5. A side hustle should be advantageous to your employer. You’re bringing your dynamism and ambition back to the business. See Henley Business School white paper and Timewise
  6. Flex in the home/in a partnership. Sit down and assess how evenly tasks are distributed. Do it with empathy, relinquishing control if you have perfectionist tendencies. Think about the wider picture, long term partnership and family ambitions.
  7. Flex in the body. Understand circadian rhythms and menstrual cycle and use them as a beneficial way to navigate life. Tackle creative tasks at your most efficient times.
  8. How to squeeze it all in? Be efficient, prioritise and set boundaries (and stick to them)!
  9. Flex in our futures. With careers being longer and people living longer  we need to think deeply about the way we live our lives. How can we think flexibly about maintaining our skill sets and staying relevant to ensure we’re not phased out by automation? Flexible working and creativity can help to maintain relevance.
  10. Their motivations are different but there’s a common thread that unites all flexers; they’re brave, creative and thinking in a maverick way. Here’s their 4 stage journey:
  • Clarity – Identifying a clear flaw in your current situation. Why is this not working for you right now?
  • Creativity – You’re paving your own way and creative about the solution to the problem.
  • Chutzpah/Badassness! –  Brazen bravery! It involves going against the grain .
  • Conviction – Obey your own boundaries and stick to your own guns. Flexibility is about intense strength and having hard edges; not answering to emails on your day off and saying no to things.


We hope you’re all feeling motivated to build some degree of flexibility into your life. Look out for Annie’s book for more ways to make flex work for you.

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