The Chairman's Blog: 10 Years of Smarter Working

It seems almost impossible that we are in our 10th year of  Work Wise UK promoting the principles and practices of smarter working, aimed at increasing  the efficiency and productivity of our workplaces.

Our aim 10 years ago when we first introduced Work Wise Week was to promote modern “smarter” working practices such as agile, flexible, remote and mobile working,

Over the last decade we have lead the way in championing new ways of working and have assisted countless organisations from all sectors  to realise the benefits of smarter working practices. A key element to smarter working has been changing working patterns. Work Wise Week presents an ideal opportunity for UK Employers to explore how their organisations can boost productivity and efficiency as well as increase the well being and work life balance of their Employees by implementing smarter working practices.

During the week, we will publish a series guest blogs from our strategic partners as well as the heads of organisations who have already experienced the significant benefits of implementing smarter working practices. 

As we celebrate our first decade we invite Employers, Employees and the Self-Employed, throughout the UK to join us in marking Work Wise Week 2015 #workwiseweek and National Work from Home Day #nwfhd by using social media channels to promote what they are doing to work smarter.    

The real paradox is that whilst falling unemployment is great news and the number of  people in work makes fantastic headlines, productivity, is dragging well behind. And is a real concern. International comparisons show that output per hour worked in the UK is 21% lower than the average for the other six members of the G7 – the US, Germany, France, Italy, Japan and Canada. 

Why? Well some economists believe that low productivity is the price the UK is paying for creating a more flexible adaptable workforce. Some believe that the huge rise in self-employment in recent years to a figure now standing at 5m, coupled with development of a more flexible workforce, embracing every form of employment contract from zero hours upwards has created, or at least contributed to our low productivity environment.  

The Holy Grail of future success however,  really is Productivity and it has eluded companies small and large over many years. Successive Governments have highlighted the issues, incentivised and invested in Industry to find the answers and deliver the results. Despite all this we still fall behind other developed countries.  

Improving productivity means a great deal more than just pulling all the usual financial levers and downsizing the workforce to cut costs, it means a big shift in work place culture.  

Working Smarter is no longer debatable it is essential and we have to talk about productivity at every level in the work place. 

Increasing labour productivity is not a question of working harder or longer hours, it’s a question of Working Smarter and more productively and that means making the best possible use of People, Process, Premises and Technology. Fully understanding the critical relationships in balancing and investing in these key resources is essential to creating greater business efficiency and generating greater value from working time, never mind the directives! 

The key to achieving a more productive workforce lies very firmly in Leadership and Management styles. To achieve the productivity improvements needed, Culture, the product of attitudes and behaviors needs to change dramatically in many companies.  

We have visited and worked with hundreds if not thousands of companies over the last 10 years and can absolutely say that Corporate success is not achieved or sustained without first class leadership and communication and that starts at Board level. That means undertaking an effective review of board effectiveness and the  impact that key decisions have on the workforce and customer base.  

Work Wise Week creates the opportunity to focus,  think and discuss  the issues. What are the key drivers of your business?  How productive is your organisation? Are you achieving more output per hour?  Are you measuring the right things? Have you created the right culture for success? Difficult questions to ask, even more difficult to answer without some real investment in time and people.  

“How could new approaches to people management deliver effective change and put you on the road to a more productive future”  This should be a question all organisations ask themselves and their teams during Work Wise Week. 

Team work leads to thinking about the organisation of work and workflow to make things better and add real value. That’s what Work Wise UK helps to deliver, developing the skills and knowledge, measuring the key drivers of the business and achieving results that will improve productivity and deliver the competitive edge that we are all looking for.  

Work Wise Week provides a real opportunity to review organisational performance, think about the prevailing attitudes and behaviours and consider whether the culture created is delivering the results you are looking for. Productivity is the Business, can you afford to let it slip? If you do the next 10 years could show a very different picture of the employment and workplace  arena. 

David Lennan

Chairman, Work Wise UK