A new report has called upon organisations throughout the region to adopt smarter working practices. Entitled “Creating a smarter working south east region”, the report was commissioned by the South East of England Regional Development Agency (SEEDA), the South East England Regional Assembly, NHS South East Coast, NHS South Central, BT and Work Wise UK. It identifies that “the sustainability of the South East region is at risk from pressures on travel, congestion, skills availability and stress related health problems.
“Smarter Working can help employers, employees and potential employees, by reducing wasted effort and travel, reducing stress by the introduction of new working methods and routines, and helping improve the skills gap by reengaging
“The South East Plan (Regional Spatial Strategy) and Regional Economic Strategy set out priorities for the region, and both emphasise the need for smarter working, recognising wide ranging benefits to both employers and employees.”
The 24-page report (available at www.workwiseuk.org) is the first step towards launching Work Wise South East, a Work Wise UK programme tailored specifically to the region’s particular aims and objectives. Through the report, Work Wise South East is calling upon organisations throughout the region to play their part in creating a smarter working south east and join the initiative and support the aims and objectives of Work Wise UK, the UK-wide not-for-profit initiative that promotes the adoption of smarter working practices. Now in its second year, Work Wise UK has broad government, business and union support including the CBI, TUC, British Chambers of Commerce, BT and Transport for London.
With the South East having the highest proportion of commuters, and the average person spending the equivalent of an additional working day each week commuting, the region presents the greatest opportunity for the largest number of people to benefit from the introduction of new smarter working practices. The region already leads the UK with the biggest proportion of home workers: over 600,000 people work from home in the south east (excluding London), nearly 15 per cent of the working population, a total that has increase by nearly a quarter in the last decade.
The wider adoption of smarter working practices, such as flexible working (including compressed working hours and nine day fortnights), working from home, mobile and remote working will improve business productivity and competitiveness, reduce transport congestion and pollution, improve health, assist disadvantaged groups, and harmonise work and family commitments.
Work Wise South East, which will be launched later this year, is being established by a vanguard group consisting of SEEDA, The South East England Regional Assembly, NHS South East Coast, NHS South Central, BT and Work Wise UK. Other organisations from both the public and private sectors are now being invited to join them.
“Work Wise South East wants to revolutionise the way the region works,” said Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Work Wise UK. “The aim is to break down established and outdated working culture and traditions which emanate from two centuries ago. They are wasteful in terms of resources and time, damaging in terms of the environment and global warming, unhealthy in terms of worker wellbeing, and frustrating in terms of traffic congestion and public transport over-crowding.
“The situation will get worse. Over the next ten years, predictions are that there will be a 31 per cent increase in passenger miles by rail and underground, and a 15 per cent increase in bus miles.
“The South East has to make changes to avoid companies and population migrating to other parts of the country due to these growing transport problems. The region, which currently boasts the highest GDP per person in the UK, has to protect its position by taking steps to maintain competitiveness and productivity. This can be achieved through businesses adopting smarter working practices.”
Work Wise UK provides various resources to organisations wishing to adopt smarter working practices. These include an ‘adoption ladder’ where they can evaluate the extent to which they currently use smarter working, and an indication of the potential for further adoption. And where there is potential, Work Wise UK has a national network of advisers that can assist. To provide a benchmark, the Work Wise Standard was developed and launched earlier this year, with the goal of recognising best practice in smarter working with the award of the Work Wise Mark of Excellence once certain standards have been met.
The adoption ladder, together with further information about the advisers and Work Wise Mark, can be found on the website (www.workwiseuk.org).
Work Wise South East will announce a programme of activities when it launches in December.
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Issued on behalf of Work Wise UK by Chelgate Limited
Notes to editors:
· A copy of “Creating a smarter working south east region” is available on the Work Wise UK website (www.workwiseuk.org).
· Work Wise UK is organised by the IT Forum Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation.
· Supporters of the Work Wise UK campaign include the CBI, TUC, the British Chambers of Commerce, BT, Transport for London, Equal Opportunities Commission, Scope, the RAC Foundation, Institution of Occupational Safety and Health, Technology Means Business, Henley Management College and the Association for Commuter Transport.
· Further information about Work Wise UK can be found on the website www.workwiseuk.org.
· A dedicated electronic media centre has been established for journalists to obtain further information, to download print-quality materials, and to register for media updates about Work Wise UK. This can be accessed either through the main website or directly at www.workwiseuk.pressrooms.net.
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