The British Standards Institution (BSI) has announced the publication of PAS 3000: Smart Working, a new Code of Practice designed to help support organisations in the implementation of smart working principles. The Code is sponsored by the UK’s Cabinet Office on behalf of the Smart Working Charter Steering Group involving representatives from industry, academia, institutions and other public sector bodies.
For the first time, the Code of Practice pulls together Best Practice from across the world and across disciplines by way of enabling today’s organisations to move from principles to standards and then benchmark themselves against demonstrably high performers.
Smart working principles acknowledge that technology and flexible working patterns are changing the way in which we work for the better, creating modern environments that support more flexibility and collaboration and provide staff with a better work/life balance. In turn, this results in enhanced productivity and efficiencies for the employer.
News of the Code of Practice was made available on the same day as the shortlist for the second annual The Way We Work Awards was announced. This Civil Service-centric awards programme is designed to recognise and reward teams across Government who’ve created smarter ways of working.
The awards shortlist includes major UK-wide programmes such as the one devised by the Ministry of Justice creating 24 commuter hubs to reduce the need for (and the expense of) lengthy journeys and truly supporting the work/life balance agenda.
Smaller-scale specialist initiatives are also represented, such as the one adopted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to make sure that specialist resources – language translators, for example – can securely carry out their work from home instead of having to travel into London.
Doing more with less
Smart working has become more common in recent years across the private and public sectors, and can undoubtedly play a key part in meeting the challenge of doing more with less.
This move towards smart working is supported by new technologies which allow more mobility of work, with legislation encouraging flexible working and new trends when it comes to workplace design.
The Code of Practice is intended for use by the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, and is aimed at both large-scale organisations and their smaller cousins. Leaders and managers in employing organisations and those charged with implementing smart working programmes will find its contents particularly useful.
John Manzoni, CEO of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretary at the UK’s Cabinet Office, commented:“I’ve been impressed and inspired by what has been achieved so far across the Civil Service, while the TW3 Awards help to recognise and celebrate smart working programmes right across Government.”
Manzoni added: “The new standard developed by the BSI and the Cabinet Office will establish good practice across a range of disciplines, and subsequently help to turn smart working from an art into a science.”
Scott Steedman, director of Standards at the BSI, responded: “In the competitive business environment, more and more organisations are realising the importance of unlocking their full potential. Smart working provides opportunities for greater flexibility and mobility. New technologies and concepts in workplace design will mean a further step on that journey.”
Steedman concluded: “Smart working is about harnessing the potential of flexible working in a strategic way to deliver benefits both for the business and for employees. Employing effective practices is a key goal for all of today’s organisations. Let’s also remember that smart working isn’t restricted to one sector. Rather, it’s applicable to all businesses regardless of their size or the vertical market in which they operate.”
The Code of Practice has been developed using a consensus-based approach with input from such organisations as the Agile Future Forum, AMA Alexi Marmot Associates Ltd, the CIPD, the Department of Health, the Henley Business School, the Local Government Association, Microsoft, the Ministry of Justice, Morys and Company, UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, Vodafone and Working Families.
Big Data research report published
The BSI has also published a Big Data research report to establish the role that standards can play in this emerging market.
The Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) estimates that Big Data will benefit the UK economy to the tune of a massive £216 billion by 2017 and result in the creation of no less than 58,000 new jobs.
Organisations have always produced large quantities of data, but the economically-viable ability to store and analyse exponentially growing volumes of data is new, and is really what the term ‘Big Data’ represents.
To date, there has been very little standardisation activity in this area. Addressing that situation, an external study conducted by Circle Research examined the market for Big Data standards. This included mapping the current Big Data market to identify high potential industries where there’s a need for Best Practice, in addition to qualitative research comprising interviews with industry professionals, academics, Government representatives and consumer bodies. The detailed report also features pertinent quotes from many blue chip organisations.
The report identifies a series of challenges for the growth of the Big Data market which also represent an opportunity for developing standardisation in this area.
Anne Hayes, head of market development for governance and risk at the BSI, informed Risk UK: “There are a series of challenges that organisations carrying out Big Data projects are now facing. This research has developed a list of areas where there’s initial agreement that the UK can take the lead on developing impactful Best Practice. The BSI will now work with key stakeholders in the UK, and indeed those on the international stage, to develop standards that actively help UK organisations reap the true benefits of Big Data.”
Potential areas of standardisation
*‘How To’ Guide for Big Data Projects: This would include Best Practice to help formulate projects, determine who should be involved, define the necessary objectives and ensure that quality checks are in place
*Metadata: The importance of metadata is generally seen to be growing. However, many organisations still struggle to capture and store metadata in both a usable and consistent format. Furthermore, there’s a lack of guidance on areas such as how to ensure metadata quality and for how long it should be stored
*Big Data Communications: In recent years, there have been cases of Big Data initiatives failing to take-off due to public resistance. Many experts believe the problem lies in a failure to adequately explain to customers/members of the public the potential societal benefits of using Big Data analytics. Standardisation could help to develop Best Practice for how Big Data initiatives should be explained and communicated, and ensure that a positive case for Big Data is presented to the public
*Terms and Conditions: Building public trust in the use of their data is absolutely essential. However, Terms and Conditions are often confusing, ambiguous and ‘wordy’. Any organisation with clear and easy-to-understand Terms and Conditions will be at a competitive advantage. Standards could help by ensuring that Terms and Conditions are simple to comprehend and optimise informed consent prior to data being used for Big Data-focused projects
*To find out more information download the full report