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Inflexible work beckons as workers joints stiffen

The legislation outlawing age discrimination in the workplace, which comes into force next month, has been welcomed by Work Wise UK, the campaign to promote smarter working.

With an increasingly ageing population, UK businesses are going to have to rely more and more upon the services of more mature staff. ESPON, the EU’s monitoring organisation, recently revealed the extent of Europe’s population trend with fertility rates in every single European country now falling below the population replacement rate. Although immigration will go some way to mitigate the effects on population, the whole of Europe faces an ageing workforce, and over time, staff and skills shortages.

UK businesses will face an increasingly competitive recruitment market, and will have to do far more to attract and retain staff. Government, employers’ organisations and trade unions are agreed that adopting smarter working practices, such as home working, flexible, remote and mobile working, will enable businesses to provide a more appealing working environment and also a more productive one.

Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Work Wise UK, said: “Employers will have to adapt their working practices to fit with their ageing workforce.

“Actually, working 9 to 5, five days a week, at a central location is a bit of an anachronism. It is only culture which dictates this rigid work structure and is largely unnecessary – Work Wise UK aims to break down these traditions, which will not only benefit maturing workers, but all workers.”

The adoption of smarter working practices has a number of other benefits, such as reducing the need for travel and introducing flexibility into when travel is necessary, which smoothes out the excesses of rush hours in terms of traffic and public transport overcrowding, and also reduces transport-related pollution and CO2 emissions.

Phil Flaxton added: “The UK is entering a period of significant change – what we are calling the second Industrial Revolution. This is not directly related to technological change, as the first Industrial Revolution was, although technology is certainly at the heart of it, but through a fundamental change in working practices and culture.”

Further information about Work Wise UK can be found at www.workwiseuk.org.

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