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London 2012 and smart working
26 Mar, 2012 02:23 pm
The 2012 Olympics and Paralympics will be a unique, and wonderful, sporting spectacle. With the world coming to Britain in the summer they will also be once-in-a-generation transport challenge.
We are planning and preparing so that, come the Games, people have the information, the advice and the options they need to commute, run their businesses and do their jobs. It's also important that government sets an example. At the Department for Transport our ambition is to cut our travel footprint by half during the Games. We are working with our staff to manage our commuting, business and visitor travel, as well as our deliveries and collections.
IT successfully eliminating journeys
So the Games are a challenge for transport, but also an opportunity. Encouraging changes to work and travel patterns isn't a Games only policy - it's all part of the Coalition Government's wider transport agenda. We recognise that this is an age where new technologies, and advances in communications, are not just broadening our horizons, they are shrinking our world. So much so that they are reducing, sometimes removing entirely, the need to travel from A to B.
A click of the mouse is replacing a trip to the supermarket, with increasing numbers of us are filling our virtual shopping baskets on a website instead of lugging the real thing round a department store. Our working day - and with it when and how we travel - is also being transformed. Rather than people having to go to work, work is increasingly coming to people - in their homes, on their computer screens, down their fibre optic cables and through their smart-phones.
From remote working and staggered hours to teleconferencing, a change is underway. It is slow and steady, but it is real and radical. The latest example is the "Anywhere Working Initiative." This recently launched on-line portal is a by business, for business, innovation. Supported by government, employees and unions, it is deliberately designed to educate, raise awareness and promote participation in flexible working practices.
Tangible results from remote working
Flexible work environments can deliver tangible benefits. For example, the Environment Agency has reduced its business mileage by 19 million miles in the last five years through, among other things, teleconferencing. Remote working also brings benefits money can't buy. The University of Bradford found virtual meeting technologies in five universities reduced stress and gave people more control of their time.
By reducing the need to travel, flexible work environments can also benefit the wider environment. Twenty-two per cent of UK domestic carbon emissions are from transport, so we can't continue down the same old track - we have to cut our carbon footprint. Greater flexibility and less travel make sound economic sense too, whether it's through boosting productivity or delivering efficiency savings.
Just consider the prize on offer if as individuals, businesses and communities we do things differently, not just through this summer but in the months and years to come; fewer needless journeys and a better work-life balance, congestion and carbon down, company performance and profits up, our environment cleaner and greener. In short, thinking anew about how we work and travel is simply the smart thing to do.
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