“UK business needs to come out of the dark ages and realise that it cannot continue to use working practices that originate from the 19th century.”

Sir Digby Jones, UK Skills Envoy and former director general of the CBI, has signed the Work Wise UK Concordat backing the implementation of smarter working practices across the UK. He joins many other signatories including the CBI, TUC, British Chambers of Commerce, BT and Transport for London, committed to bring about a workstyle revolution which will make the UK the most progressive economy in the world.

Sir Digby Jones said: “The nature of work is changing, and UK business needs to come out of the dark ages and realise that it cannot continue to use working practices that originate from the 19th century. It needs to modernise, change its approach, retrain its management, and understand the benefits of new smarter working practices.

“The UK faces some huge challenges in the coming years including addressing the issues of skills shortages. Recruiting and retaining good staff is going to become an increasing problem as the population ages and the marketplace becomes ever more complex and competitive.

“To be able to compete in the labour market, and attract the skills they need, businesses are going to have to adopt smarter working. This is not rocket science, it is the only way forward, and the reason why I am a keen supporter of Work Wise UK and am signing the Concordat today.”

The agreement states: “This concordat brings together the signatories in a joint statement supporting the development and implementation of smarter working practices and as an example, and encouragement, to others to do likewise. The goal is to increase significantly the use of these practices by 2011. Such advancements will not only benefit companies, communities and individuals, but the UK economy as a whole, making it more productive and competitive in the global marketplace.”

David Lennan, Work Wise UK chairman, said: “Our current working practices, which date from Victorian times, do not allow an efficient use of the resources or skills available to businesses. The adoption of new modern smarter working practices will not only help address key issues facing the economy today, such as competitiveness, environment and congestion, but also aid the issue of staff and employee wellbeing.”

Sir Digby’s support comes the month after Work Wise UK staged the second annual Work Wise Summit (May 16), at which he launched the new Work Wise UK Quality Mark.

Work Wise UK, a not-for-profit initiative, is in the second of a five year programme to promote the wider adoption of smarter working practices, such as flexible working including compressed working hours and nine day fortnights, working from home, mobile and remote working, to bring about a workplace revolution, similar in impact to the Industrial Revolution which Great Britain led in the 19th century.

Both the public and private sectors agree that the benefits of smarter working are enormous: apart from the positive implications on employees’ work-life balance and travelling time, the improvements in productivity will help the UK meet the competitive challenges presented by the emerging economies, such as India and China.

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