Sustainable Transport – Is Your Business Ready?
The 16th - 22nd September 2019 is European Mobility Week, a campaign which is designed to improve health and wellbeing by promoting clean mobility and sustainable transport in urban areas throughout European cities.
This year, the campaign theme focuses on safe walking and cycling in our cities. For individuals, and the public at large, the benefits of choosing alternative methods of transport are numerous. The physical act of walking of cycling improves the health of the individual. In fact, studies show that cyclist on average live two years longer than non-cyclists and take 15 per cent fewer days off work, while 25 minutes of brisk walking a day can improve life expectancy by up to 7 years!
Additionally, these emission-free methods of transport help to improve air quality in our cities, making them more attractive with less congestion.
While this year’s focus is on specific modes of transport, since its inception, European Mobility Week, and the UK’s Travelwise have helped to promote multi-transport types. Thereby encouraging us to think about when to use certain modes of travel such as our cars, and when we can instead turn to public transport or walking and cycling. By promoting clean mobility and sustainable urban transport, businesses can help to improve the quality of life in the towns and cities in which they reside.
But how can business owners assist with tackling the issues around sustainable transport? By making offices easily accessible through multiple methods of transport, you can help to make a difference.
Who Uses Your Offices?
Prior to committing to any plan for transport, it’s worth taking a wide view of who uses your offices and their needs. If you have a very small workforce this may be pretty easy to map. However, for large offices, this may take more consideration. Engaging your employees at an early stage will help you to get them on board with your plans, so find out more about how your staff travel to work.
For example, in addition to your core staff, do you need to cater to visiting customers and suppliers. What about your cleaning and maintenance contractors? Are they working outside of standard office hours, and do they need to bring along materials?
Consider measures you can take to make it more friendly towards your staff, contractors and clients to travel in a more sustainable way, such as storing materials for cleaners on-site, or offering more flexible hours to staff to allow for multi-transport commuting.
Location and Facilities
The location of your office is not only key to determining a sustainable transport plan, it’s also vital that you consider the location of your office for the success of your business. If you’re considering an office relocation, think about how your existing visitors and staff will be able to access your premises, and the facilities that you may have on-site for them to do so.
One of the biggest barriers to people taking “active transport” such as walking, cycling or jogging to work is the infrastructure available within the workplace itself. Therefore by providing facilities such as secure bike storage, shower rooms, and lockers in which to keep kit, you can encourage your employees to use these methods of commuting – making for a healthier, more active workforce.
Where the location of your office is not conducive to active transport and the offer of office car parking space is the only option, consider offering electric vehicle charging points to encourage the use of transport which uses more sustainable sources of energy.
Sustainable Transport Throughout the Supply Chain
The European Commission has announced it aims to reduce effects of pollution and congestion by encouraging co-modality (e.g different forms of transport) throughout supply chains across Europe.
Consider the modes of transport used within your supply chain. Is there room to improve? Can products be ordered in larger quantities? For more ideas, take a look at our article on making your business greener.
Encouraging Sustainable Transport
There are numerous ways in which you can encourage sustainable transport within your offices. Building a culture of encouragement and benefits for using these methods can have an incredibly positive impact on the wellbeing of your employees and indeed the wider community. In fact according the World Health Organization, 7 million premature deaths per year are linked to air pollution.
Here are some ideas to encourage a sustainable commute in your business:
Offer Incentives To Use Public Or Active Transport
Consider offering your staff access to benefits such as season ticket loans which allow them to spread the costs of using public transport systems, but benefit from annual savings. Promote cycle to work schemes, where employees can spend of bikes and equipment tax-free, making a claimed saving of up to 42% on the overall value. Making choosing alternative methods of transport more financially attractive to your staff is far more effective than disincentivising.
Encourage Car Sharing
Not every office is well located for using public transport. Therefore if you are located in an area which is difficult to get to by any other method than a car, encourage your employees to make use of car-pooling. Use internal comms such as your company intranet, or foster a champion within your organisation to encourage staff to share their journeys.
In many instances, the need for travel to your office may not be necessary. By investing in excellent communications technology, you can reduce the need for commuting. Offer employees opportunities to work from home or flexible working patterns where appropriate, and reduce meetings by choosing video conferences instead. If you have more than one office, look at how much inter-office commuting takes place and see if steps can be taken to reduce this.
Lead By Example
As a business owner, if you are committed to creating a culture of sustainable transport in your office, it’s pretty vital to lead by example. So get rid of that “directors parking space” (or at least get an electric car) and get moving towards a more sustainable future.