Book Review by Taylor Berrett
If there’s one thing that the last year has taught everyone from the 9 to 5 employee to the CEO trying to manage a company of thousands, it’s this: the old rules don’t apply anymore. Working exclusively from offices, rigorously following the traditional work schedule— these are fossils from a time before the pandemic, before advanced research into working from home’s effects on productivity, and before experts like Annie Auerbach put their stamp on the conversation about work life.
Auerbach is an expert trends forecaster and consultant who’s advised companies that include Google, Nike, Unilever, and Pepsico. In her new book, Flex: Reinventing Work for a Smarter, Happier Life, she delivers a clear, unambiguous message: It’s time to change the rules.
Engaging, well-researched, and free of fluff, Auerbach’s book focuses primarily on women’s professional lives, but its messages are powerful for anyone managing a career in the new world. The 9 to 5 life in an office just no longer works for most people, and it’s time to figure out where to go next.
What Happens When We Embrace the ‘Flex’ Concept
What primarily sets Auerbach’s book apart from others in a similar space is that she has both the personal experience and the research to back her up. She’s delved deep into exactly what happens when women embrace the concept of ‘flex’ in their careers and lives. It’s not about ‘empowering’ platitudes or motivational talk— it’s about facts. Women who obtain more flexibility in their work lives become more creative, more strategic with time and energy, and more engaged with both their careers and their personal lives.
According to Auerbach, when we reject ‘our toxic culture of presenteeism, time-pressure, and ultimately burnout, it helps us escape the army of octopus lady jugglers, crazed with exhaustion of ‘having it all.’ It allows us to live longer and more sustainably. It gives us self-worth.”
Flex speaks directly to women working in traditionally 9 to 5 career spaces, but it should be required reading for managers, bosses, and company executives at every level.
Auerbach deftly and effectively lays out what research has been saying for years— and experience around the world over the last year has shown: it’s time to say goodbye to the rigid work style that’s been the norm for decades. It’s not just bad for morale, mental health, and overall satisfaction of employees, but it’s also bad for productivity and meeting company goals. Perhaps that’s what’s most powerful about Auerbach’s book— it’s not simply about women revolting against their employers’ demands for increased productivity, availability, and output. It effectively shows that both ends of the equation benefit from embracing flex. Employees and individuals become happier and healthier, and companies benefit from people who are more engaged, more strategic, more creative, and more empowered to create greatness.
And they don’t have to commute to an office to do it.
Taylor Berrett is a Contributing Writer at Soundview. He is also a freelance writer, editor, and host of the podcast Alone in a Room. His other book reviews can be found here.