Chelgate was retained to handle public relations and public affairs for Work Wise UK from its launch in May 2006 through until 2011. It was an interesting assignment as it focused on changing working practices which have been engrained since Victorian times: working nine-to-five in a central work location is the way we have always done it.
But it does not have to be that way. Changing the way we work, persuading business and employees to adopt smarter ways of working, was certainly a challenge, but a natural progression as technology has advanced significantly over the past 20 years. New technology is enabling people to work from home, work remotely and work on the move, and it is undeniably sensible to allow flexible working times so that people are not all travelling at the same time.
Chelgate is not new to promoting new practices through technology, having orchestrated the Government-backed industry programme in the late 1990s to encourage schools to use the internet for education purposes.
The Work Wise programme includes the annual, Work Wise Week, National Work from Home Day and Commute Smart Week, together with additional separate initiatives for the Work Wise Mark of Excellence (launched in 2008).
The launch in May 2006 of Work Wise Week and National Work from Home Day attracted 546 cuttings and over 60 broadcast interviews in the two week period, including BBC News 24, ITN, Radio5 Live, Radio 2, Sky News, Channel Five and the Daily Telegraph. Excluding broadcast, media coverage achieved during the year totalled an advertising equivalent value of £373,568.
In 2007, excluding broadcast, media coverage during the year totalled 1,130 cuttings, with an advertising equivalent value of £702,839. Excluding online coverage, 796 print media clips had a potential reach of over 72 million people. Print coverage included the London Metro (three times), Financial Times (three times), The Daily Telegraph (twice), London Evening Standard, Daily Star (twice), Morning Star (twice) and the Mail on Sunday. There were 57 broadcast interviews around Work Wise Week including BBC Radio 5 Live (twice), BBC Radio 4 News and LBC (twice).
The Work Wise programme has certainly been a success. As a result of adopting smarter working practices, employers have seen increases in productivity, employee retention, staff welfare and reduced absenteeism. Employees have a better work-life balance, reduced stress levels, less commuting, not suffering the stress of over-crowded public transport and congestion, better health and greater sense of well being.
The economy has benefited through greater overall productivity and competitiveness, less public transport over-crowding and congestion, and less pollution and the general impact on the environment.
Michael Hardware - Executive Vice President - Chelgate