Smarter Working – Sharing the Experience was the title of the 2009 Annual ACT Travelwise Conference, writes Sarah of Lollypop Publishing. Delegates were promised a conference to show how smarter working practices are set to become a major factor in the lives of businesses and their employees in helping to combat congestion and climate change. Smarter working should not just about asking people to sign up to consultation, surveys, handbooks and monitoring. It’s about
- empowering communities with information that allows them to make informed decisions and to change the way they work so that they can combine work with family and dependant commitments and community participation ,
- asking employers for flexible working options,
- utilising the help and advice given freely by government and local authorities
- working with schools and extended school options so maximise the benefits to working parents and enabling them to make the best choices for families.
The initial session asked delegates what they conceived to be flexible working options, and what delegates were looking to get from the day. A promising start, with similar minded folk, keen to gain information and best practice to put into place within their organisations. The first speaker, Tim Luft, explained how many Coventry University employees have taken up smarter working options with great success and outlined the Smarter Working West Midlands’ Programme, aimed at businesses to improve their productivity and reduce carbon emissions through . Developed with Coventry University Enterprise Ltd., with funding from AWM, this programme acts as a communication, co-ordination and facilitation hub for the dissemination of knowledge, and the implementation of individual smarter working initiatives – and they are pretty handy at putting in the IT too.
An explanation of utilising technology to allow more flexible working verses the daily commute was presented by Alison Steed, a freelance journalist and editor of the mymoneydiva web site. Great advice on saving money by taking advantage of tax and NIC savings on environmentally friendly methods of travel was explained simply by Sharon Gilkes and Richard Barrett from PriceWaterhouseCoopers and James Datson from Atkins outlined an interesting car parking management system “Fair Park” that they’d developed. All great sustainable travel advice very well presented.
Workshops were held on the main topics to allow delegates to go into the subject in more detail. They were very well received, even if the driving simulator did make an odd delegate or two feel a little queasy.The conference came to an end with an interesting talk by Centro’s CEO Geoff Inskip on his views of the future of transport and business in the Midlands. It was good to hear about their on going commitment to the midlands future transport needs.
I agree with everything the Smarter Working West Midlands programme aims to achieve – but there is a danger of too narrow a focus. The opportunity is to join up a number of programmes and initiative that all have a common aim
Check out the conference organisers’ website, www.acttravelwise.org.uk register your company, school or organisation and take full advantage of their sustainable transport advice, travel planning help and real-time travel information – go on what are you waiting for?