Work Wise Week : topic du jour I

reflecting on issues raised during work wise week

Working Wise is  a subject close to my heart today as  I’ve spent a very old school unwise day of work which involved 61/2 hours in a car traveling to and from a (thankfully worthwhile as it turned out) meeting on the other side of the country when the wise move in an ideal world would have been an AV conference of interested parties. 

Carbon offsetting today is going to require a real effort  as four different members of staff had to travel from four different locations in four separate cars for a 90 minute discussion. at the moment we couldn’t do it any other way but here’s hoping.

Whilst I was trundling along the motorway network the Work Wise summit opened today with such luminaries as Sir Digby Jones, the former DG of the CBI;  Ruth Kelly, the equalities minister and Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC sharing the headlines.

I can’t think of another issue that would unite that particular trinity

David Lennan, chairman of workwise UK suggested that the four main challenges of today for UK businesses are:

competitiveness the environment, road congestion and quality of life

and further more that

Working practices are a major contributor to our problems, and also the greatest opportunity to address them.
“Our working practices come from a bygone era and are actually extremely inefficient and wasteful in terms of time and energy.  Working 9 to 5, five days a week, from a central location, coupled with the desire to travel many many miles to attend meetings, are working practices which are largely unnecessary considering the technology available today.

the strategic partners of the initiative are very interesting, being BT,  for the obvious reason that they have a vested interest in the network that you’ll use to work wisely; and  Transport for London ….. who you would have thought would actually want you to travel,happily they have realised that the projected population of London just can’t all be moved around at the same time so we need to think strategically. 

David went on to conclude that

Smarter working is a win–win solution, there is no downside. The only obstacles to changing working practices are culture and management style. But if the UK is to remain as one of the most progressive economies in the world, we need to overcome these obstacles and encourage a workstyle revolution to create a smarter working Britain able to face up to the challenges of the 21st century.”

this is true to a point however there is a considerable minefield to negotiate and the obstacles both in culture and management style are very very real. No organisation can afford to just drop flexible working on it’s workforce and expect it to succeed, it needs to be accepted top down and bottom up and prepared for carefully. after Flexible working is introduced it needs to be assessed and nurtured in it’s early adoption to ensure the  organisation gains the projected benefits.

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