According to research by a leading psychologist, the 22nd of January was what has been called Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year. This is thanks to a combination of miserable weather, debts accumulated from Christmas and shattered New Year resolutions. However, there is a solution which can alleviate many of the causes of this malaise, smarter working, which can reduce the despondency and depression of commuting in the dark winter months.
A growing number of organisations have recognised the major benefits of smarter working not only for people’s well being, but also many others including cutting congestion and over-crowding on public transport, raising productivity and reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Today, a number of leading businesses and organisations, including the CBI and TUC, have signed an agreement to encourage the wider adoption of smarter working practices across the UK.
Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Work Wise UK, which is the organisation promoting smarter working, said: “UK workers spend on average 47 working days a year commuting – almost one additional working day per week – and this is on top of the UK having one of the longest working weeks in Europe. The additional burden of having to commute at this time of year could be the ‘straw that breaks the camel’s back’.
“There is another way. If employers will allow a level of smarter working they may well see an improvement in staff well being, and even an increase in productivity.”
Smarter working practices, including home working, reduce the need to commute to work, while flexible working enables journeys to work to be staggered, alleviating congestions at peak periods.
Work Wise UK, which has broad backing from business and the unions, supported by the TUC, CBI, BT, Transport for London, the RAC Foundation, Association of Commuter Transport, Henley Management College and British Chambers of Commerce, is a five-year campaign to encourage smarter working practices. It was launched in May 2006 with the objective of half the working population having the opportunity of adopting working practices by 2011.