Guest blog: Smarter working and Work Wise Week: a topic worthy of a proper conversation - and Bristol Business School is in!

Guest blog: Smarter working and Work Wise Week: a topic worthy of a proper conversation - and Bristol Business School is in!

By Dr Harriet Shortt, Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies, Bristol Business School, University of the South West of England.

David Lennan kicked off Work Wise Week by encouraging us all to have a proper discussion about how we work and what we achieve. His call to action advises that now is the time to really think about our working practices and to consider how and where people work.

And I say ‘hear, hear!’. Smarter working should be a topic of conversation in every organisation – whatever the size or industry – and this particularly interests me, given my research in organisation studies and work space.

Where we work is changing – in fact, as I write this blog I am sat at Bristol airport in the UK waiting for my flight to Crete – I’m off to present at the 12th Organization Studies Summer Workshop. As I work, I am surrounded by other people on their laptops, phones and other devices. We are mobile and we are connected, and more and more of us are working at home, in the car, on the train, and at the airport. Increasingly the notion of a ‘9am to 5pm’ in the office is being questioned and alternative ways of working are being adopted.

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Guest blog: The gig-economy: What needs to change? - By Steve Mosser, CEO of Sensee

Guest blog: The gig-economy: What needs to change? - By Steve Mosser, CEO of Sensee

Hardly a day goes by without an article on the gig-economy appearing in the media. And from high-profile court cases brought by workers that object to the lack of employment rights and benefits, to stories of individuals who are living happier, more fulfilling lives because of it, the gig economy is sure to provoke strong – often polarised – points of view.

According to the CIPD, 4% of working adults aged between 18 and 70 are working in the gig economy, with approximately 1.3 million people now working two jobs or more. Often referred to as “slashies” – think waiter/delivery driver, make-up artist/blogger and gardener/Uber driver - many choose to work this way, enjoying the freedom, variety and flexibility that this way of working brings. But others do it out of necessity when, for instance, they cannot secure a full-time job with a sufficient income (and benefits) to support a family.

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Guest blog: Why 2017 is the year to let more people work from home - By Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary

Guest blog: Why 2017 is the year to let more people work from home - By Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary

Homeworking up by 7.7% this year, but millions more still want it.

More and more employees are working from home. This is welcome, but I am worried that progress is still much too slow. National Work from Home Day, which is organised by Work Wise UK, is an excellent opportunity to look at how we give our increasingly tech-savvy employees more choice about where they do their work. Therefore I urge employers to consider how homeworking might help both their workers and their business. 

During 2016 the number of employees regularly working from home increased by 118,000, taking the total to 1,639,000. The increase of 7.7% out-stripped the growth in employee jobs by a factor of 12 last year. This news is worth celebrating, but there are still millions more employees who would like to be able to work from home.

Homeworking must be well-thought out and fairly managed

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Guest blog: The learning curve - By Joanna Boyce, Founder of Jobot Social

Guest blog: The learning curve - By Joanna Boyce, Founder of Jobot Social

https://jobotsocial.wordpress.com/Making the decision to not only change career, but to try out working for yourself can be both daunting and exciting in equal measure. Whether you choose (or indeed have the choice) to stay at home to raise your children, work part-time or are a full-time working mum,  rest assured that you're doing what is best for your family. Feelings of guilt plague our choices but we have to all cut ourselves and each other some slack. There's no 'right' way, we choose the way that best suits our personal situation. The preferred choice isn't always there and the chance to have a good work-life balance can be difficult.

I made a decision right from the start. I wanted to dedicate time to my family and to be readily available for the school run, unexpected illness and school holidays. To do this I needed to find, or create, flexible work.

I'd been in the same industry since leaving university, and knew when I went on maternity leave that I wanted a fresh start and a change. I did some online training courses, borrowed books, sought advice and was lucky to have the full support of an understanding and encouraging partner.

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Guest blog: Work Wise Week can inspire new business owners - By Steve Byrne, Chief Executive of Travel Counsellors.

Guest blog: Work Wise Week can inspire new business owners - By Steve Byrne, Chief Executive of Travel Counsellors.

Work Wise Week does an incredibly valuable job. With flexible working on the rise, businesses and individuals alike need to be aware of the enormous potential that adopting modern working practices can offer. In particular, it sheds light on a growing trend which has already had an impact not just on our business, but across the travel sector as a whole.

A recent report stated that the number of people working from home in the UK hit a record 1.5 million last year, up by 20 per cent since 2006. I suspect that is under stated given the number of people who also work from home on an ad hoc basis, but simply goes to show the scale of the labour market currently either running their own business, or flexing the traditional definition of employment.

We have seen that this model of home working applies itself particularly well to the travel sector. Even working from a bricks and mortar environment, many agents try to make themselves available for customers beyond the traditional hours of a retail shop or even that of a call centre. For us, working from home has been the foundation for many of our franchisees’ customer relationships and enables them to provide a better level of customer service and care.

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Guest blog: I was fed up with having to pay extra to travel to work, just because I work part time - By Jo Rossi, Founder of the Get Us to Work Campaign.

Guest blog: I was fed up with having to pay extra to travel to work, just because I work part time - By Jo Rossi, Founder of the Get Us to Work Campaign.

 I moved back to Kent after 20 years in London, to get a decent step on the housing ladder. Considering my options as I returned to work post baby, I was struck by the lack of flexible season tickets. Commuting from Ashford, and forced on to the high speed train due to unfavourable timetabling, I was faced with two choices. I could buy peak time returns, which cost around 50 per cent extra for each journey, or I could shell out over £6000 for an annual season ticket which I would only use three times a week.

I was lucky enough that my employer and I came to an agreement where I mainly work from home to get around the ridiculous costs of commuting part-time. I very much appreciated no longer having to pay such high travel costs, but I missed seeing my colleagues and being a part of office life.

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Guest blog: How I beat procrastination in one day - By Andrew Boswell, who is a Programme Director with more than 40 years experience in IT and Telecoms.

Guest blog: How I beat procrastination in one day - By Andrew Boswell, who is a Programme Director with more than 40 years experience in IT and Telecoms.

Today I’m going to show you how I finally beat procrastination. I stopped putting off those important tasks, the ones I delayed even when I knew bad things would happen if I didn’t do them. Before, I shied away from the most important tasks. To be honest, I was a bit of a ditherer.

How did I do it? The Staircase Technique. And in this case study I’m going to show exactly how I did it, step by step.

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

How the Staircase Technique Kick-Started My Career

I was a programme manager in an international company. One of their key software developments was in deep trouble. All the releases were hopelessly late, and reliability was appalling. Things came to a head, and I was asked to take over.

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Guest blog: How can a reduction in travelling impact pollution levels in the UK? - By Stella Amoateng Asante - GreenMatch

Guest blog: How can a reduction in travelling impact pollution levels in the UK? - By Stella Amoateng Asante - GreenMatch

According to the Autumn Budget 2016, the chancellor of the Exchequer in the United Kingdom announced plans to invest £390 million into road and transport infrastructure by 2020-21. The funds are expected to ease road congestion's and reduce vehicle emissions under what the government term as ‘strategic road network’. This will also support the increase of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEVs), renewable fuels, connected and autonomous infrastructure.

Among other benefits, it is hoped that this will foster new ways of travel and commuting that will in turn address the ongoing air pollution problem that the UK is battling. The investment comprises the following: £80 million towards ULEVs charging infrastructure; £150 million to supporting low emission buses and taxis; £20 million for innovation of alternative aviation and heavy goods vehicle fuels; and, £100 million for a new UK CAV testing infrastructure.

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Chairman's blog: Work Wise UK Sets the Standard: A new collaboration with the University of the West of England, Bristol Business School - By David Lennan, Chairman, Work Wise Uk

Chairman's blog: Work Wise UK Sets the Standard: A new collaboration with the University of the West of England, Bristol Business School - By David Lennan, Chairman, Work Wise Uk

Last year on 23rd June the UK made a big decision to leave the EU and we are now in full flow towards Brexit. The impact for most of us will probably  be felt in the Workplace, whetherthis is because of changes to the Law or because our Terms of Trade are affected.

This is our Twelfth year of promoting workplace efficiency by Smarter Working throughout the UK and helping Organisations to introduce modern working practices. Yet we still find that many Orgnaisations, small and large in the Public, Private and Not for Profit Sectors are still not embracing all that technology and modern people practices can offer. This has led us down the path of declining productivity. Declining productivity and reversing the trend will become an increasingly big issue for the UK as Brexit impacts and the Labour market becomes even more competitive.

We need our Industries to be fully prepared and able to attract the very best people and employ the very best working practices and processes.  Productivity is the key to success and to creating successful and growing businesses. Improving workplace productivity can produce enormous gains for any organisation and radically improve the bottom line.

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Guest blog: Cake in the Office - health hazard or edible symbols of collegiality and teamwork? - By Dr Harriet Shortt, Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies, Bristol Business School

Guest blog: Cake in the Office - health hazard or edible symbols of collegiality and teamwork? - By Dr Harriet Shortt, Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies, Bristol Business School

I am sure many of us are familiar with cake in the office – cakes to celebrate a colleague’s birthday, cake sales for fundraisers in the office canteen, exotic sweet treats brought back by co-workers returning from holiday, and office bake-offs between competitive teams.

The BBC reported last year that this ‘office cake culture was a danger to health’ and the Royal College of Surgeons argue ‘workplace cake culture’ is impacting the health of workers in the UK, citing obesity and dental problems as key issues caused by such activities. The latest report from the Royal Society for Public Health (published in August 2016 and featured here on the Work Wise UK guest blog by Shirley Cramer CBE in November 2016) discusses the impact of rush hour commuting on our health and well-being and notes that unhealthy food and drinks that are made available by outlets in train stations during our commute is potentially adding ‘an average of 767 calories’ to our diets each week. And only in January of this year, The Telegraph reported that civil servants had been warned that ‘office cake culture could be a public health hazard’ by a blog post written by a member of the Treasury’s ‘Wellbeing Workstream’.

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Guest blog: Commuters: get happy! - By Melissa Addey - A full-time writer and the 2016 Writer in Residence for the British library

Guest blog: Commuters: get happy! - By Melissa Addey - A full-time writer and the 2016 Writer in Residence for the British library

Commuting is bad for you. Really bad for you. If you commute you are more likely to be overweight, suffer from anxiety, stress, depression and social isolation. You are more likely to sleep badly and be exhausted, have high blood sugar (which could lead to diabetes), high blood pressure and cholesterol (which could lead to heart attacks) and experience neck and back pain. Oh, and you are 40% more likely to get divorced.

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Contribution from freelance writer: Why there is an increase in employees working from home in the United States - by Jenny Hart - based in the USA

Over the last few years, there has been a substantial rise in flexible working hours and the number of employees working from home. This is a hotly debated topic as to if the pros of this outweigh the cons for organisations. As employees are becoming increasingly mindful of having a healthy work-life balance whilst still being dedicated to their careers, it is therefore important that companies are willing to offer the work flexibility and adapt to this modern outlook on working hours.

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Guest blog: 30 Powerful Time Management Tips That Really Work - By Andrew Boswell, who is a Programme Director with more than 40 years experience in IT and Telecoms.

Guest blog: 30 Powerful Time Management Tips That Really Work - By Andrew Boswell, who is a Programme Director with more than 40 years experience in IT and Telecoms.

Don’t you just hate it when you have too much to do and you’re running out of time? I can help you boost your productivity. These time management tips will accelerate your performance, and you can start right now.

Whether you are a student, professional or home-maker, these tips will help you manage your time effectively.

1. Measure your use of time

Look back at yesterday. How much time did you spend doing key tasks? Where did the rest of the day go?

How many hours did you you spend travelling? Doing your emails? Attending meetings? Taking breaks? Dealing with interruptions? Doing key tasks? Or doing stuff that keeps you busy but is just a chore?

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Guest blog: Our ticketing system is structurally sexist - we need part-time tickets now - By Lianna Etkind, Public Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport

Guest blog: Our ticketing system is structurally sexist - we need part-time tickets now - By Lianna Etkind, Public Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport

The need for part-time and flexible season tickets has never been greater. Over eight million people are now working part-time, with many more working from home or one or more days a week.

But the country’s ticketing system has not kept pace, and is still stuck in an outdated model of five-day-a-week commuting. Whilst annual, monthly and weekly discounts are available, they are based on travelling five days a week.

Campaign for Better Transport’s Fair Fares Now campaign has been calling for cheaper, fairer and simpler train fares for years. So we welcomed the Conservative Party’s manifesto promise to introduce part-time season tickets, so that the millions of people who work part-time would be able to travel to work more cheaply. Over a year later though, and little progress has been made. Part-time commuters are still having to pay through the nose for 5-day a week season tickets they don’t use two days a week; or pay full whack for peak time daily fares. Part time workers get paid two thirds less than full time workers on average, and many must cope with the high cost of childcare. Why should we have to pay extra for travel too?

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Guest blog: Smarter working and better transport needed to beat the commuter blues - By Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC

Guest blog: Smarter working and better transport needed to beat the commuter blues - By Frances O'Grady, General Secretary of the TUC

Travelling to work can be unbearable. Long commutes feel like wasted time, and clog up our transport networks. Commute Smart Week is a great opportunity to talk about how we can make the journey better, shorter, or even eliminate them.

As November bites, many of us will be commuting in the cold and the dark. Trees will have shed their leaves. You don’t have to live in the Pennines, where the first snows fell a month ago, in order to get the feeling that simply getting to work can itself be hard work. 
And things are not getting any easier. The average yearly commute has increased by 10 hours since 2010. One in seven employees are now commuting for more than two hours a day, up by 900,000 since last year. 

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Guest blog: Cycle safe, cycle smart over the winter months - By Fredrik Carling, CEO of Hövding, the world's first and only airbag for cyclists

Guest blog: Cycle safe, cycle smart over the winter months - By Fredrik Carling, CEO of Hövding, the world's first and only airbag for cyclists

The growth of cycling in the UK has taken many people by surprise, especially considering the British long-standing love of the motorcar.  People are embracing cycling in many ways – from the daily commute to competitive pursuits, as riding has been widely acknowledged as a great way to stay fit.  However as we move into the winter months, British cyclists do need to be aware of the potential dangers and how to minimise their risk on the roads.

On average, 5.7 million UK adults cycle regulary every month and many British organisations aim to increase this number by accelerating their promotions of cycling, working hard to highlight the benefits that the sport provides. The ‘Cycle to Work Scheme’ is just one example of plans that encourage cycling commuters, promote a healthy workforce, and provide environmentally friendly travel options.  

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Guest blog: How many of us enjoy our commute? - By Ali Clabburn: CEO of Liftshare.com

Guest blog: How many of us enjoy our commute? - By Ali Clabburn: CEO of Liftshare.com

Meet Rob. Rob enjoys his commute. Which is a surprise - as its long. Very long. He commutes from Manchester to London. By Car!

Rob Scott is one of a huge number of people who now car-share to work and never get bored. The secret? Well for him perhaps it was his Biscuit Club?! 

“We come up with little games to keep ourselves amused,” he admits. “For a while, one of us would bring biscuits into the car a couple of times a week, and we’d taste them and give our opinions. It was like a biscuit club. We must have tried about 45 different packets over a couple of months. It was a blissful period, but ultimately detrimental to our waistlines.”

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Guest blog: Commuting, People, Planet and Profit - By Steve Mosser, CEO, Sensée

Guest blog: Commuting, People, Planet and Profit - By Steve Mosser, CEO, Sensée

On average, UK citizens spend an hour a day commuting to and from work. Over and above the actual time involved, there is also a significant number of other downsides: the high cost of public transport, escalating fuel costs, traffic jams, bad weather, packed commuter trains, personal risks related to late night commuting (visibility and safety), transport delays and cancellations, leaves on the line… I could go on.

You may have assumed that I don’t like commuting. And you’d be right - I don’t! But it’s not my dislike of commuting that that’s important or relevant during National Commute Week, it’s how companies can support Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals by implementing flexible – and smarter – ways of working that also happen not to involve commuting.

"People, planet and profit", also known as the ‘triple bottom line’, is a term used to describe CSR which was coined by John Elkington in 1994, and I’d like to explore briefly the relevance of those terms in the context of the daily commute.

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Guest blog: Help for the age-old home/commute/office/commute/home cycle - By Roddy Campbell, Founder and Chief Executive of Vrumi

Guest blog: Help for the age-old home/commute/office/commute/home cycle - By Roddy Campbell, Founder and Chief Executive of Vrumi

I am really pleased to have been asked to write a blog post for Work Wise UK, especially for Commute Smart Week, about what Vrumi, the company I founded two years ago, can do to help the age-old home/commute/office/commute/home cycle.

What’s changed in the way we work, in the last five years?  Really, the cloud; the ubiquity of all our work being available where we are all the time, not just email.  So workplaces are not factories you go to where the tools sit, the only places the work can be done, but rather places of collaboration, of combinations, of thought, of social and collegiate interaction, of creation.

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Guest blog: Health in a Hurry - the impact of rush hour commuting on our health and wellbeing - by Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health

Guest blog: Health in a Hurry - the impact of rush hour commuting on our health and wellbeing - by Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health

Estimates show that 90% of the UK workforce commute to work every morning. This is due largely to the industrialisation of modern modes of transport, which has revolutionised and mobilised our workforce. In London, for example, just under 50% of workers commuted using public transport in 2011. Surveys completed in 2008 and 2013 showed the rise of the ‘extreme commuter’, individuals willing to travel more than 90 minutes each way to get to work, with further indications that this may be a growing trend. It is often assumed that those who commute long distances receive pay-back in terms of enhanced job prospects, higher wages, or the ability to live in more affordable areas. But what cost do we pay for these conveniences and opportunities?

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