Visiting the Houses of Parliament is always a pleasure… actually, now I think of it, I’ve never been before… so my first ever visit was very exciting! The reason for attending? A parliamentary reception for the Anywhere Working Campaign. And, if you want to get symbolic about it, the very fact that the growing topic of Anywhere Working/flexible working has made it within the walls of Parliament demonstrates that it’s a subject now more important than ever.

Short yet sweet – the whole event lasted for about an hour – jam-packed with speakers, supporting the campaign. Here is a run through of what the main speakers had to say…

Robert Wilson MPFirst up was the Parliamentary ‘host’ Robert Wilson – MP for Reading East, and a big supporter of flexible working. He gave a short and succinct intro to the gathered guests. Until now, anywhere working/flexible working seems to have been on the back-burner as far as government policy is concerned, while the private sector begins to immerse itself in cloud, BYOD (bring your own device) and a whole range of tech advances which make working anywhere so simple. “There are big policy questions for government” Rob Wilson stated – hitting the nail on the head.

Next up was Microsoft’s very own Dr Nicola Hodson, General Manager for UK Public Sector. During the day leading up to the event, Nicola said that she had worked in Reading, London, on a train and in Starbucks! A true example of the flexible working/Anywhere Working dream.

Nicola’s message was quite simple – not only is Microsoft wholeheartedly supporting the Anywhere Working initiative, but the company is also an excellent case study for flexible working – Microsoft has saved $212 million dollars worldwide (and  saved in air miles) since implementing ‘unified communications’. Lync, the cloud and Microsoft Office have played a huge part in this revolution.

Dr Nicola HodsonAlso mentioned in Nicola’s speech was Wakefield Council – through their WorkSmart program they have reduced office space by 44%, saving 225,000 annual commuting miles, 65 tons of CO2 and greatly reduced staff absence. And Transport for London, who by opening up their real time tube data have been able to create a market for smartphone applications to provide users with up-to-date travel news and help commuters across the capital to have a better travel experience.

Meeting the flexible working demands of employees is possible and within touching distance, even for those government organisations who are feeling the pinch – cloud, BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and flexible working are all part of that. A great example of saving money and boosting productivity by using cloud is the Isle of Man government – you can view their case study here.

The third speaker was Ben Plowden, Director of Planning for TFL. Their huge success of the managing behaviour change during the Olympics last summer was the main focus of his talk. Ben told us that 33% of people reduced the amount of travel they did, 25% changed when they travelled and 10% changed the route they took. The massive logistical achievements of the 2012 Olympics are in no small part due to TFL’s success during 2012 and beyond.

A big fan of TFL’s achievements is Norman Baker MP - Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport. He was the last to speak. Norman asked people to look at the flexible working agenda and to take stock of big businesses, such as Microsoft – who are saving money and cutting CO2 emissions without loss in productivity (in fact, boosting it!). Finally, Norman gave the quote of the afternoon when he told the audience that Anywhere Working “is an agenda whose time has come”.

Anywhere Working Week:

It all kicks off on 18th to 22nd March. We will be bringing you some excellent government-focussed content to look at during Anywhere Working week. This will focus on saving money while increasing productivity as well as a look at some of the great platforms and devices on offer to support flexible working.

Anywhere Working website and calculator:

Take a look at the Anywhere Working website where a massive 379,000 people have signed up to support the Anywhere Working Campaign. Community support for this campaign is huge already.

The Anywhere Working team have developed a great Anywhere Working Calculator – available online and on the Windows app store! This helps you to work out how much money, time and CO2 you could save.

Posted by Howard
Content and Communities Manager, Microsoft UK Public Sector