Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Work Wise UK Summit - (long-ish) roundup

The Work Wise UK Summit took place today at the QEII Conference Centre in London with speeches from the Rt Hon. Hilary Benn, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, plus Brendan Barber, general secretary of the TUC and Edmund King, president of the Automobile Association. The theme was the environmental impacts of work and how the wider adoption of smarter working practices could make a major contribution to solving the environmental catastrophe predicted by many.

Dr Richard Betts, head of climate impacts at the Met Office Hadley Centre, said: "The world is definitely getting warmer, and it is very likely that this is due to our ever-increasing emissions of greenhouse gases. To slow down climate change, we will need to reduce our emissions - smarter working could make an important contribution to this."

David Lennan, chairman of Work Wise UK, said; “More and more organisations are realising that they have a moral and social obligation to consider, and mitigate, their activities’ impact upon the environment in which they operate. There are a myriad of ways in which organisations can introduce smarter working practices, even where it is not immediatly apparent. There are various forms of smarter working, including regular or occasional home working, various forms of flexible working, remote and mobile working.”

One of the key benefits of smarter working is that it reduces the overall need to travel. Edmund King, AA president said:
“Three hundred AA employees are saving 90,000 litres of fuel or 620,000 miles commuting each year by working from home. The AA and our employees benefit in many ways. Homeworkers can do a split shift which covers the busiest times on the road in the morning and evening peak. In transport terms home working cuts out the commute, reduces congestion and carbon emissions. Hopefully other companies will follow the AA lead to put more workers on the superhighway rather than the actual highway now that the technology is much more affordable.”
Ben Plowden, director, smarter travel unit, at Transport for London said: “Smarter working is a concept that fits perfectly with smarter travel programmes. By offering people flexibility in when and where they work, as well as how they get there, we can all benefit – economically, environmentally and socially.”

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said:
“Real progress has been made in persuading more employers to offer innovative flexible working practices. Those employers that take the plunge report back benefits to their business, including improved productivity, reduced costs, and better staff recruitment, retention and motivation. What a shame then that all we ever seem to hear from the business lobby is continued negativity towards flexible working. Last week’s all-so-predictable bleating around extending the right to request was a case in point.

“But despite the good news on flexible working, over the last year there have been worrying signs of a long hours cultural renaissance. An increasing number of employees are expected to work more than 48 hours a week and put in extra hours for free. We must all work to ensure that these are temporary blips and not developing trends. As we enter a period of economic uncertainty, it’s tempting for employers to retreat from innovative working practices and instead work existing staff harder and longer. But the need for increased productivity is greater than ever, which makes this the perfect time for companies to introduce smarter working practices. Those employers who are keen to make flexible working work for their business and staff will find willing accomplices in trade unions.”


  1. So true...

    Now, can I get this on a tape that I can play subliminally in my boss's office?

  2. I'd be happy to email it to him anonymously if you like.