Guest blog: In the car on the M4 - my transitory dwelling place, my space in-between - By Dr Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor in Organisational Studies, University of the West of England Bristol

Guest blog: In the car on the M4 - my transitory dwelling place, my space in-between - By Dr Harriet Shortt, Associate Professor in Organisational Studies, University of the West of England Bristol

As Work Wise Uk's Commute Smart Week comes to a close, I thought I might write a piece that, I hope, will raise some thoughts and reflections about how and why our commutes might offer a space for escape and freedom. Taking a critical, analytical view here, I offer some thoughts on the commute as a space ‘in-between’ in which we can momentarily break away from the multitude of identities we seek to maintain in contemporary society, and temporarily find a sense of sanctuary in a working world characterized by change and fluidity.

The commute. On a train, on a bus, or in a car. It is a space in-between the dominant spaces of work and home. It is a liminal space. Or is it?

In my paper, ‘Liminality, space and the importance of ‘transitory dwelling places’’ (Shortt, 2015), I argue that spaces in-between – or liminal spaces – become transitory dwelling places when they are made meaningful by workers. I was talking about spaces at work in this paper –  like corridors, stairwells, and toilets. Places in which, as my research shows, workers hang out in order to seek privacy, escape the visibility of work, or hide away with colleagues for snatched conversations away from the open-plan office. But recently, my commute in my car from Bath to Bristol and back seems to be taking on similar characteristics. It’s my little space in-between. My space to escape.

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Guest blog: Commuting is taking longer and making our lives harder - time for a twenty-first century approach - By Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary

Guest blog: Commuting is taking longer and making our lives harder - time for a twenty-first century approach - By Frances O'Grady, TUC General Secretary

British workers now spend the equivalent of 27 working days a year travelling to and from work, according to TUC figures published today. In the last ten years, the average commute has increased by 20 hours a year.

And commuting is eating up more of our money as well as our time. Rail fare increases of 3.6 per cent have already been announced for the start of 2018, and the price of petrol is predicted to rise as well.

With the days getting shorter, this is the time of year when the commuter blues really bite. Travelling home from work in the dark can be depressing – even dangerous – as weather worsens and travelling conditions become dismal.

It doesn’t have to be this way. And Commute Smart Week is a good time to start thinking about smarter alternatives, like flexi-time and high-quality home-working.

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Guest blog: We can't stop the clocks going back, but we can take positive action to improve our well being - By Ian McKay, Chairman, How's My Driving.

Guest blog: We can't stop the clocks going back, but we can take positive action to improve our well being - By Ian McKay, Chairman, How's My Driving.

In an ideal world a large proportion of people would prefer to work from home, or at least much closer to home than they currently do. The stresses of long traffic queues, delayed trains and cancelled flights all affect our physical and mental health and extend our working day.

Even without these pressures it’s a fact that “driving 25,000 miles or more a year on business is the third most dangerous activity in the UK”.

It’s not realistic for everybody to work from home, but society must start to think and act on the sheer waste of resource in people travelling hours to just sit at a desk in a corporate office.

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Guest blog: Cities can lead the way in supporting smart commuting - By Lianna Etkind, Public Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport

Guest blog: Cities can lead the way in supporting smart commuting - By Lianna Etkind, Public Transport Campaigner, Campaign for Better Transport

Flexible working has come a long way since it was seen as the ‘mummy shift’. While there’s still a long way to go until every employer makes flexible hiring the norm, and until an end to unreasonable refusals of flexible working, more and more employers are recognising its benefits.

Unfortunately, the transport sector has largely failed to keep up with this enormous shift in working practices. While around 60 per cent of us now work part-time or flexibly, rail fares are still stuck in an archaic structure of nine to five, Monday to Friday, meaning commuters around the country are being penalised. We are faced with a choice between buying a season ticket which will only be used three or four days a week, or buying full price peak-time fares for the days we travel. Those who work part-time, or those who work from home one or two days a week, end up paying well over the odds for commuting. For many part-time workers, these extra costs fall on top of a reduced wage and the high costs of childcare. It’s no surprise that some people give up their city job for a local job, even if it doesn’t offer the same salary or opportunities for progression, and others give up work altogether.

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Guest blog: Is it time to ditch the commute altogether? How working remotely benefits your organisation, your staff - and the planet

Guest blog: Is it time to ditch the commute altogether? How working remotely benefits your organisation, your staff - and the planet

By Lucy Elkin, Director of myworkhive.com, a social enterprise specialising in remote work. myworkhive runs a job-board for remote roles, and is developing flexible, virtual internships for Mums returning to work and people with disabilities.

Eight years ago, I stopped commuting. Moving to a rural part of Suffolk with my young family, I faced a dilemma; most jobs in my sector (I managed overseas charity projects) were concentrated in London, leaving me the choice of commuting for two-to-three hours each day, or finding a way to work from home. It was not a hard decision, as luckily I was able to work freelance from home for a previous employer. Home-based or ‘remote’ working became the norm for me. Yet I kept meeting talented people — often Mums, and people with health or mobility challenges — who had taken jobs well below their skill level or dropped out of the workforce altogether, because there were no good job options close by. So I founded myworkhive to help more people connect with the many employers who are embracing smarter, more flexible ways of working.

I see remote working as one part of this flexi-work ecosystem. However, unlike other more familiar forms of flexible working, such as part-time jobs and compressed hours, working remotely can require a shift in mindset for employers. Part of that is realising that it’s not just a nice perk to offer staff — it can also offer significant business benefits. Here are seven ways that remote working can benefit both your organisation and your team:

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Guest blog: Smarter Commuting is about mixing it up! - By Kiron Chatterjee, Associate Professor, Centre for Transport & Society, University West of England Bristol.

Guest blog: Smarter Commuting is about mixing it up! - By Kiron Chatterjee, Associate Professor, Centre for Transport & Society, University West of England Bristol.

Smarter commuting is commuting that is good for our health and wellbeing. What this means won’t be the same for everyone but commutes that are physically active, commutes during which we can do something worthwhile and commutes where we have the opportunity to choose from a mix of options are ingredients of smarter commuting.

We have recently completed a research project examining the link between commuting and wellbeing and based on this, and other research, we give our view on what constitutes smarter commuting.  For further details about the research we mention please see our Commuting & Wellbeing study report.

A good way to judge what is a smart commute is to look at people’s satisfaction with their commute. Studies tend to show that commute satisfaction is highest for walking or cycling to work, lowest for public transport and somewhere in the middle for car commuting. It has also been shown that longer commute times are associated with lower commute satisfaction - more on which we will say shortly.

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Guest blog: The A, B, C, of staying safe in winter and bad weather conditions - By Ross Moorlock, Business Development Director at Brake, the road safety charity

Guest blog: The A, B, C, of staying safe in winter and bad weather conditions - By Ross Moorlock, Business Development Director at Brake, the road safety charity

Winter is approaching fast and average temperatures are starting to plummet. The weather can be unpredictable and turn quickly, making roads treacherous. Ice, snow, heavy rain and fog significantly increase the risks on roads. Stopping distances can double in the wet and increase ten-fold in ice and snow, and if you can’t see clearly, you can’t react to hazards. Driving in bad weather can be lethal.

Brake urges anybody commuting to and from work to follow the A, B, C of staying safe in winter and bad weather conditions.

Avoid driving

If possible, avoid driving in snow and other treacherous conditions. Never set off when it's snowing heavily or if it’s forecast to snow, and avoid driving if you possibly can in other bad conditions like fog, heavy rain and ice. Consider alternatives like public transport. If you drive to work, speak to your employer in advance about home-working arrangements when the weather is bad, especially if you live in a rural area prone to flooding or snow.

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Chairman's blog: Productivity: Paradox, Puzzle, Problem or Symptom? - By David Lennan, Chairman, Work Wise UK

Chairman's blog: Productivity: Paradox, Puzzle, Problem or Symptom? - By David Lennan, Chairman, Work Wise UK

Commute Smart week is a very significant week in the year for the Work Wise UK calendar, when the clocks go back and we reflect on some of the stunning headlines that have hit the press during the year. A real standout one is that Traffic Congestion is estimated to cost the UK Economy more than £300 Billion over the next 16 years according to a study from INRIX and the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

Work Wise UK has focused attention on the Productivity conundrum and these massive missing £Billions for several years, but during this last year, more has been written about Productivity than at any time in our Industrial history and if the gurus are to be believed, we continue to slip down the International productivity leagues and are now said to produce 17% less per hour worked than other G7 Nations.

The Government has now set Sir Charlie Mayfield the task of finding “The Missing Billions” £130bn to be more precise, said to be lost to the British economy through poor productivity. Well, as we are now in full flow towards Brexit he and his team had better find the answers to that puzzle quickly, as the impact for most of us will probably be felt in our Workplaces and our pay packets. Whether the impact will result from changes to our Laws, our Terms of Trade, or simply because our attitudes and behaviors at work are not changing to create more productive workplace cultures, is yet another problem and perhaps even the big one to solve.

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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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