Millions to stay away from work for a day

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In what could be the largest mass absence from work for a generation, an estimated five million people will not be coming in to work on Thursday, May 15. None of them will be making excuses. And none of their employers will be accusing them of skiving.

For the third year, a day in May has been chosen as National Work from Home Day. Led by the likes of BT and Transport for London, and with the approval of organisations such as the TUC, CBI and British Chambers of Commerce, employers and staff around the UK are being encouraged to work from home that day, so that everyone can experience the benefits.

National Work from Home Day is organised by Work Wise UK, a national not-for-profit initiative to promote 'smarter' working practices – such as flexible, remote and mobile working, and working from home. It aims to give half the working population, some 14 million people, the opportunity to work smarter by 2011.

“This is not a day off to those participating,” said Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Work Wise UK. “It’s the chance for hard-working, open-minded people to demonstrate that without the stress induced by the workplace environment, with the often long commute many have to endure, people can be even more productive by occasionally working from home.

“We say, you lose nothing by trying it out, and you may be surprised by the positive impact of the experiment.”

The day marks the start of Work Wise Week, running until Wednesday, May 21, consisting of a number of themed days and events.

Friday May 16 will focus upon the significant positive impact smarter working can have on the environment both in terms of the reduced need to travel and also a longer term reduction in resources and infrastructure to support a smarter working workforce. The weekend of May 17/18 will be Wise Work Weekend, a consumer-focused initiative to provide guidance and help to those people who would like to work smarter.

Monday May 19 will look at the transport impacts of smarter working. A fall in the need to travel, and the staggered time of travel, resulting from smarter working will significantly help in solving the problems of traffic congestion and overcrowding of public transport.

Tuesday May 20 will focus upon employee benefits and social impacts of smarter working in terms of improving work-life balance, leisure and family benefits, and the knock-on effects on health and relationships. Various organisations with interests in these aspects will be involved in the day, both nationally and in the regions. The emphasis will be upon promoting a better work-life balance – working smarter, living better.

Wednesday May 21 will be the last day of Work Wise Week and will feature the Work Wise Summit at the QEII Conference Centre in London. The summit will cover many of the elements of smarter working through a series of keynote speeches and panel discussions, including organisations such as TUC, the AA, BT and Transport for London.

The emphasis will be upon making the UK more competitive in the face of growing economies in Asia, enabling a second industrial revolution to make the UK one of the most progressive economies in the world.

Further information about Work Wise UK can be found on the website www.workwiseuk.org

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