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The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has become the first government department, and public sector organisation, to be awarded the Work Wise Mark of Excellence.

Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, was presented with the accreditation for his department at the recent Work Wise UK Summit, at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, by Phil Flaxton Chief Executive of Work Wise UK.

The Mark of Excellence recognises Defra’s achievements in introducing smarter working practices, such as home working, flexible working (including condensed hours and nine-day fortnights), mobile and remote working, across the organisation. Defra was assessed using the Work Wise Standard, which was developed in collaboration with the TUC, Transport for London, HBOS, NHS, BT and the Association for Commuter Transport.

Hilary Benn said: “The Work Wise initiative is making a significant contribution, one, to the sustainability of our economy, and two, to its competitiveness, and in the process to the health and wellbeing of all the people involved.

“Defra has improved and modernised its (own) working practices, creating a better environment for staff and more efficient services for our customers.

“This Award acknowledges the hard work that has been done to achieve this. We will continue to strive to make Defra a top performing department that staff are proud to work for.”

Phil Flaxton congratulated the Minister on his department’s achievement. He said: “Many forward thinking organisations, such as Defra, are realising that the nature of work is changing and that they need to adapt and evolve to be able to recruit and retain the staff they need.

“The Work Wise Mark of Excellence will be increasingly recognised as the mark of a modern employer aware of the benefits of flexibility and new ways of working, enabling them to attract the very best staff.”

Assessment for the Mark of Excellence required Defra to demonstrate:

• Understanding and use of smarter working techniques as a strategic planning tool
• Staff involvement in defining future strategies
• Vision in planning for the future

The assessment determined how effective Defra has been at recognising that smarter working, in its widest sense, contributes to not only organisational success, but also employee satisfaction. It covered the following elements:

• Operational benefits
• Client benefits
• Employee benefits
• Change management
• Legal aspects
• Transport and environment
• Healthy workplace

The Work Wise Mark of Excellence and the Standard provide a framework both for organisations that have already introduced smarter working practices and wish to go further, or those that are just realising the benefits and want to start reforming their working practices.

Russell Toms, head of standards and assessment for Work Wise UK, said: “The Mark of Excellence brings together the best in current thinking and provides a framework both for organisations that are already deploying smarter working and want to do more or those that are only just beginning the smarter working journey”.

Further information about the Work Wise UK Mark of Excellence can be found on the Work Wise UK website ( or by contacting Adam Le Gresley on 01784 473005.

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Issued on behalf of Work Wise UK by Chelgate Limited

Notes to editors:

• Images of the Minister and Phil Flaxton are available.

• 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.

• 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

• Further information about Work Wise UK can be found on the website

For further information and images, please contact:

Katie Daniels, Chelgate PR, 020 7939 7939 or

Roy Turner, Chelgate PR, 020 7939 7939 or 07970 522 232 or

This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Chelgate in the following categories: Consumer Technology, Business & Finance, Computing & Telecoms, for more information visit