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29 November 2013

Time to change the social business model

As part of the Scottish Government Digital Scotland rollout, I would like the government to require companies over a certain size to offer a proportion of jobs on their books as distance working. This technology has been available for decades and for even longer companies have effectively outsourced work to different continents and had company subsidiaries that "remote work", so why not individuals?

Having more people work from home would relieve pressure on city housing markets, encourage the rural economy, help disabled people who have transport difficulties, encourage a development of digital technologies, make Scotland a leader in a social revolution away from the 19th century mentality of going to a factory for everyone to work in one place, encourage employment in rural areas, promote Scotland as a place of work in the global marketplace, reduce over congestion in cities, promote rural economies, assist parents and carers to balance childcare and work, decrease the need for transport (and hence be green), reduce the need for children to move when their parents change job and above all increase social stability.

All those advantages and more.

Yes we need a digital infrastructure although large parts of what we need have been in place for years, but we also need social change to go along with it. Can the government take a lead on enabling the social change to take advantage of the new digital infrastructure being created?

West Lothian

Update 19/05/2014
I contributed to the Scottish Parliament Fathers and Parenting Inquiry, the report is now available. I am pleased to say my comments, ignored by The Scotsman, have been taken on board. Relevant extract below:

95. She highlighted the role of the parenting strategy in ensuring flexible working and other family-friendly policies were available to parents. That is a powerful tool that the Government has. We have the power to influence change in the national, top-level sense. Legislation is another powerful tool that the Government has to make further cultural change. We are also working with employers to support them in creating workplaces that encourage a better work-life balance for everyone. So that we can help dads to thrive at home and at work, we have formed a new partnership with Fathers Network Scotland, the parenting across Scotland group and Working Families to try to change the way that Scotland‘s parents live and work.

96. The Minister also brought attention to other approaches the Scottish Government was taking to encourage employers to offer flexible working. At the Institute of Directors awards tonight, we are sponsoring an award for companies that have shown excellence in providing family-friendly flexible working practices. This is the second year that we have sponsored the award, in order to work with a group of people who would not normally engage with this subject and to showcase the way in which businesses are doing their bit to allow families to have a better work-life balance.

97. We were not surprised to find that much of the evidence we heard on childcare and flexible working echoed what we heard during our Women and Work inquiry, but are concerned to find that not only do these issues keep women from actively participating in work, they keep fathers from actively participating in parenting. The imbalance in parental leave entitlements and access to flexible working arrangements are clearly a cause for concern. The Scottish Government has shown a drive towards improving the situation, and, as in our Women and Work inquiry we commend the Scottish Government on its approach and ask that such issues remain a priority in implementing the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and the national parenting strategy. In responding, we ask that the Minister include an update on progress made against the recommendations made in our Women and Work inquiry report.

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