Reducing the need to travel
Home working/remote working
Where practical, modern computer and communication technology makes it easier than ever to support home working, thus removing or reducing the need to travel every day.
If staff who work from home need occasional access to a central office this can be accommodated by ‘hot desking’, thus reducing the amount of office space required. Alternatively, occasional work spaces can be provided in company sub offices.
Remote working is an employment arrangement in which employees can complete their work from a location other than their office base, be it their home, a sub-office or even the local coffee shop.
Flexible working arrangements allow for the opportunity to travel a little earlier or later than normal to fit in with bus or train times or to avoid the busiest time on the road, saving both time and fuel. Staff who participate in flexible working hours schemes may take credit time as a day off, subject to operational needs of their workplace, thus removing their car from the road for a day.
There are many different types of flexible working which can be adopted or adapted to suit your organisation’s needs.
Flexi-time enables staff to utilise their contractual hours to accommodate a work/life balance. Some businesses use core hours (for example 10am – 4pm), whilst others have a fully flexi system, whereby staff can start and finish between 7.30am and 7.30pm, as long as they work the number of hours required, either weekly or monthly.
Flexi-time is generally calculated on a four weekly basis and allows all employees to carry over 15 hours in credit or 8 hours in debit. Hours in credit can then be taken off as additional holiday, normally a maximum of two flexi days can be taken every four weeks but not exceeding 15 days during each leave year.
Compressed working allows all employees to work their weekly full time hour over a 4½ day week, or their fortnightly hours over 9 days subject to service requirements. This provides all employees with the opportunity to take time away from work each week/fortnight without reducing their pay. If employees choose to work longer days it may enable the manager to extend the hours of service availability.
Annualised hours contracts are most commonly suited to those employers who experience peaks and troughs during the year. The number of hours worked is averaged over the year to accommodate such peaks and troughs. Annualised hours can also be used by employees who wish to work longer hours at certain times to allow shorter hours at others. Line managers should be satisfied that adequate cover is available to ensure service delivery is not compromised during shorter working periods. Similarly, other members of the work group or team should not be subjected to undue burden of work during the absences of employees who are working annualised hours.
Through teleconferencing, companies can conduct meetings, customer briefs, training, demonstrations and workshops by phone or online instead of in person.
The simplest form of teleconferencing is a three-way call. Another simple, but not necessarily effective method is to have two groups of people talk to one another via speakerphone. The limits of three-way calling and the sound quality of speakerphones make both of these options impractical for most businesses.
Another form of teleconferencing is conference calls. Conference calls let groups of people, from a few to hundreds, communicate by phone.
There is an option for teleconferencing online. This allows people to communicate through text and video in addition to audio. The simplest web conferencing methods use chat and instant messaging programs to host text-based group discussions. More sophisticated programs exchange visual information with webcams and streaming video. Some allow people to share documents online.
An important aspect to consider is that many staff may be unfamiliar with how teleconferencing facilities work. A quick win for your travel plan will be to ensure that staff have access to training, either on an as needed basis, or by offering training sessions spread throughout the year.
Reducing the need for personal travel
Some of your employees will travel to work by car because they undertake other tasks before and/or after work, such as taking children to school, making shopping trips or visiting health and sports complexes.
Opening a crèche on site can encourage a reduction in overall car use and can also assist a company’s ‘family friendly’ image.
Some companies, particularly those based out of town, operate free or subsidised works buses for lunchtime shopping trips. Some also benefit from on site services such as small shops, newsagents or restaurants, the availability of cash dispensers and access to online internet shopping facilities.
Shower facilities, provided for cyclists, are often popular with lunchtime joggers. Some companies combine these facilities with their own sports complexes.