Governments get behind agile working

Next week at Net:Work, tech geeks, journalists and forward-thinking business folks will gather to discuss the untethered, agile future of work, where we will be able to get things done nearly anywhere. But apparently, it’s not just these private actors cheerleading an evolution of how we work. Governments are getting behind the change too.

That’s what the Intranet Benchmarking Forum is reporting on its blog, where it rounds up new initiatives in the U.K., U.S. and Netherlands to encourage agile working. I include myself with the many Twitter addicts who were already familiar with the Dutch campaign thanks to its catchy appeals to “start your day in a bathrobe, not in a traffic jam,” featuring people being productive in dashing pink dressing gowns.

Obviously, it’s a memorable and much-linked-to campaign, but the slogan wasn’t just for humor. Behind the laughs was a serious message for “New Way of Working” week that encouraged people to cut down on their commuting for the benefit of the three Ps: planet, profit and people.

The Netherlands may be renowned for its forward thinking policies, but the rise of agile working isn’t just some Dutch utopian dream. The much less idealistic governments of the U.S. and the U.K. are also cheerleading new ways of working, according to the IBF post:

Mindsets still seem to be stuck in old ways of working.

This was the message from Norman Baker MP at last week’s Worktech conference in London where he unveiled the UK governments [sic] “Anywhere Working” program. He made the case for agile working practices clearly and unequivocally, citing mounting pressures on transport systems, environmental concerns and business efficiencies as key factors….

There has also been a recent executive order from the US government on “Promoting Efficient Spending” which points to digital and agile working practices as central to realizing efficiencies. According to an article in the Environmental Leader, limiting travel and using alternatives such as video conferencing, and the efficient use of online instead of printed information were both cited by the government as important. Although not a direct agile working campaign, again this adds weight to the argument.

So with governments getting behind the idea, what’s stopping businesses from adopting it? Inertia is IBF’s simple answer and one we’ve heard before. Still, official efforts to encourage new ways or working should help convince skeptical traditionalists (though the government here in the States could pass much-needed legislation that prevents double taxation of telecommuters as well).

And speaking of government actions that would encourage new ways of working, the coworking community has a few requests too. DeskMag recently published this list of 10 things the government could do to help the movement out.

Do you think governments are doing enough to encourage agile work? What other actions might help?

Image courtesy of Flickr user Natuur & Milieu.