Sustainable travel planning is not just a nice idea for green thinking people. It is something that makes solid business sense. Why? Because while sustainable travel is imperative to the future wellbeing of the environment, it also creates more cost effective businesses; businesses with reduced operating costs and a healthier, happier and more productive workforce.
Here at Mayer Brown we work with a wide range of businesses to design and implement sustainable travel plans. Our travel planning has been recognised as best practice by the Department for Transport and we would like to share our 7 top tips to help you encourage sustainable travel planning in your organisation:
- Appoint an enthusiastic Travel Plan Coordinator. This might be a specialist consultant, such as Mayer Brown, or someone within your organisation, depending on the size and scope of your project. It really does need to be someone who is genuinely enthusiastic, as this is a big part of marketing new travel methods and ideas to your employees. A successful marketing campaign will include things like emails, company website, newsletter, use of site noticeboards and getting involved in local and national events.
- Offer incentives to staff to encourage them to ditch the car in favour of walking, cycling or using public transport. This might be things like bike shop discount vouchers or the government's cycle to work scheme. (The scheme helps your employees to spread the cost of buying a bike and equipment.) Or how about a monthly prize to the employee who can demonstrate that they have used the most sustainable travel mode each month? Facilities such as showers, bicycle storage and electric car charging points can make a big difference to the choices people make.
- Introduce flexitime for your workforce. This enables people to travel when the roads are quieter (good for cyclists) and for staff to build their working day around public transport schedules. (Flexitime has also been shown to build productivity, optimising staff output through more tailored working schedules: you can not lose with this one.)
- And talking of flexible working – make homeworking part of the way your business operates. As well as cutting out travel to and from work altogether when homeworking, a combination of home and office working can boost productivity, balancing team interaction time with home days which are good for concentration without interruptions. Two days a week or three days a month – you can set up any system that works for you and your employees.
- Look into the possibility of a company pool car for your staff. An electric pool car would up your sustainability ratings further and create savings on the company car bill. Electric cars cut fuel costs, are exempt from car tax and are not subject to the congestion charge in London.
- Do not drive when you can do it digitally. Instead of arranging meetings that involve travel, use conference calls and video conferencing. Not only does this save on travel costs and cut emissions, but it is also massively more efficient. Cutting out travel time can save many wasted man-hours spent driving. That means more time to focus on core business activity and less tiredness and stress through travelling.
- Encourage staff to car share. Offering dedicated parking spaces to car sharers is a good way to encourage this, along with restricting available parking spaces to single occupancy drivers. Parking provision can be a substantial cost to businesses and car sharing can reduce it. A web-based database can help staff to identify and contact staff that they can car share with.
Our seven simple tips should help you to get started on creating a sustainable travel plan. It is something that is increasingly becoming a standard part of any business plan.
Your travel plan should be an ongoing and evolving document with an emphasis on reducing single occupancy car journeys. Get your travel plan right and you have got a better performing business while you are making the planet a better place. Now that is a journey well worth setting out on.