flexible working in the news again

two items in today’s news have brought the issue of flexible working to the fore.  

  • a report of comments made by Beverley Hughes minister of state in the DfES in a book to be published in May.
  • the furore over the e-petition (surely just a petition?) against the potential government road pricing policy 

Beverley Hughes has written that she believes that all of the UK’s 29m workers (not just those with children under 6 or disabled children under 18 and carers from April 2007) should be able to request access to flexible working practices from their employer. the teeth of this measure need to be tested because currently all an employer has to do to comply with the existing legislation is to be able to prove they have considered the request seriously  although I’ve seen sketchy proof in my time. 

the petition, although round robin emails that have been circulating have tried to twist it’s original intent to  get the government to reconsider road pricing to the purposes of a wide ranging conspiracy theorists rant against a big brother state. don’t get me wrong I’m convinced something like this will be implemented even if it’s simply more and wider congestion charges the cost of motoring will go up it may not be £86 for the single mum but it’ll sure as hell be enough to make my boss take notice of my 50 mile round trip to work as a financial PITA for him as well as a social an mental trial for me (especially when it snows like on Friday).

add the consideration of your daily carbon footprint and frankly the argument for working from home becomes pretty compelling.  

The only problem with working from home, is that most people don’t truly work alone, unless you are solely producing original content, the importance of being able to share your availability with remote colleagues becomes paramount. 

the most common means of sharing your availability (or presence) is via instant messaging, back in the day ICQ & IRC kick started the trend but today systems are far more sophisticated.

Today  We have a number of mechanisms to provide IM and get used to them because

a ) your kids and their friends all use them already

b) 20% of businesses use them in some way


c) soon they will be ubiquitous. 

Eventually we’re  going to syndicate systems (come on open source guys here’s a real itch to scratch for Joel)  and so that my personal IM will allow me to interact with a contact centre operative or a work colleague, somebody who corners the single controllable presence market is going to make a killing.

The technology is here today but not so generously implemented as a whole. take IM add voice and calendar awareness and the system tells my colleagues when I’m available, soon it will be my colleagues, my customers, my friends, my Mum and my Gran it’ll tell them when I’m on the phone or working in Word or typing a mail and what are the most appropriate means to contact me and simply make it easy for them and give them a realistic expectation of when I’m going to respond.

This isn’t big brother because I can turn it off or appear unavailable so I take back control.

Mind you I have to get my Gran on the Internet yet – that’s the next project 


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