“If it’s going to rain you take an umbrella” is a reassuring mantra from the Minister who has the biggest grip on the challenges of encouraging businesses to change the way they work. Coming from a transport-perspective, Mr Baker obviously has a vested interest in persuading us to reduce our journeys. With the transport system at breaking point, and with relatively little capacity left to exploit, the government needs to do something.
So Mr Baker took the opportunity to unveil the government’s new ‘Anywhere Working’ initiative. He stated that a change in psychology was needed in business and that a lack of confidence underpinned the lack of real change in attitudes to agile working. By providing hard evidence, easy to use guides and powerful advocates, the Minister is hoping that companies will be encouraged “to see reward where they once saw risk”. Evidence from Microsoft, who reduced their travel by 27%, and Eversheds, who saved £1.3 million by reducing travel, are facts that should encourage even the most sceptical Luddite.
If concerns about growing carbon emissions are not enough to stimulate business to make a change to the way we commute to and travel at work, the economic downturn could be just the incentive needed. Norman Baker has a no-nonsense approach to the issue: “Something’s got to give. The situation is becoming unsustainable both environmentally and economically”. The government’s initiative is a move in the right direction and in some instances they are leading by example but are they doing enough to support the new ways of working? It seems that an instructive web site and proactive policy is all we’re going to get for the moment, but Mr Baker reminded us that we are all in this together and “we all have a role to play in changing psychology”. Better make sure you don’t forget your umbrella then
Norman Baker is Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department of Transport and Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes