A human resources professional has taken the old saying of 'Don't work harder, work smarter' to the next level, in a new venture to transform how organisations work.
Ruth Gawthorpe, leading a team of experts, started The Smart Working Revolution which aims to boost businesses and the experience for their employees.
The Revolution will turn full circle when the West Midlands launch is held on June 21 in Birmingham at a historic site where leading industrialists pioneered the way that bosses provided for workers.
Now living near Nottingham, Ruth started her career with management training at Woolworth in Derby. In 1993 she obtained her certificate from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development after studying at the city's university and worked at the Bass Brewery in Cape Hill, Birmingham.
Ruth became head of HR for the call centres of Nottingham-based warranty firm Domestic and General and held directorships until in 2012 she set up Change Directors, transforming businesses through engaging and communicating with employees.
In 2013 she developed an injury that confined her to a wheelchair for a year, which led to her 'lightbulb' moment'.
“My experience drove me to realise that there are many people in this world who, for one reason or another, can't do the traditional 9-5 commute to work five days a week,” she said.
“But they still have a variety of skills which can benefit organisations and which companies are looking for.”
She even went to India in her wheelchair to help set up a company's new office. After ditching that but still in difficulty she went to Krakow, Poland, and helped British companies.
“Flexible working does not just mean accommodating workers' needs after parental leave,” she said. “It's a whole range of possibilities such as working from home or localised hubs to scheduling staff hours. Work happens in brains not in offices.”
The Smart Working Revolution encompasses a range of proven methods for implementing new ways of working that Ruth has promoted for nearly 20 years.
It is a membership community that brings together organisations which have successfully used these principles to change how they work and get the best from employees.
“My experience, backed up by various reports, showed that production increased by 13 per cent when smart working is effectively deployed,” said Ruth.
The Revolution includes local and national networking, access to tried and tested templates, and companies can seek to gain a smart-working quality mark to attract workers.
Advantages of smart working are a wider talent pool, improved productivity, reduced overheads, and more satisfied employees which leads to better customer service.
The Revolution started its nationwide launch with an event in the East Midlands in February. Since then there have been regional launches in Cornwall, Hertfordshire and Manchester.
The West Midlands launch will be at Fircroft College, Selly Oak, in the setting of the former home of George Cadbury, one of the brothers who set up the chocolate company. They introduced half-day working on Saturday and closing on bank holidays, and workers' councils to improve conditions.
Ruth said: “We have had discussions with Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce who are keen on improving working practices to cut congestion and pollution on the city's roads.
“At the Birmingham meeting we will be discussing the impact that smart working can have on diversity inclusion and the gender pay gap.”
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