Guide to Green Commuting

29/07/2015

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With the price of fuel at an all time high in the UK and the environment issues never going away, now is the time to review your organisation’s commuting policy.

The guide below shows how you can be greener, whilst saving money and having happier, more motivated employees.


Commuting may be a necessity to get to work, but is driving your car the right way of doing it? In the UK, transport emissions account 21% of the UK’s carbon footprint, whilst commuters are wasting 4.6 million hours a day commuting. Unsurprisingly, 62% of commuters would like to to reduce the amount of time travelling to and from work, with almost a third saying they’d like the option to work from home or other remote locations in order to reduce the time spent commuting.

However, despite the surveys, statistics and facts, employers seem reluctant to change. In the same research, almost half of the commuters said employers would not allow them to work from home or accommodate flexible hours. This is despite Government saying they want to cut emissions from the transport sector by 20% by 2020. Specifically, they are targeting commuter-related emissions and are promoting flexible working.

Wasted Journeys? A survey by KDS found that 51% admitted some of their business trips, in retrospect, were not worth the time or cost away from the office.

The alternatives

SHARE THE JOURNEY

The quickest and easiest change to make is to share your ride to work with a colleague, which then halves fuel use and emissions emitted. Business owners may also be interested to know that sharing a journey with a passenger has been proven to lower stress and reduce the chance of accidents.

PEDAL POWER

Living close to work? Then cycling to work is an eco-friendly way to commute, whilst helping you to get fit too. Another up-side is that employers have a tax exemption where they provide cycles and safety equipment tax-free. Additionally, employers benefit from National Insurance contribution savings so a company will in fact make money on every bike purchased!

To get started, take a look at ‘Cyclescheme’, an initiative started by Government as part of the Green Transport Plan. Employers can buy bikes from one of the 1,700 participating stores and hire them out to employees. The employer can claim back the VAT (saving around 40% of the overall cost) whilst the employee pays for the bike through a salary sacrifice.

Before alarm bells starting ringing regarding your salary, Christina Nawrocki of Wellers Accountants says that: “A salary sacrifice is neither a deduction from salary or a charge on salary. The employee simply agrees to accept a lower amount of salary, usually in return for the employer providing some kind of non-cash benefit. For something like Cyclescheme there is a specific tax exemption so the employee can receive the bike free of tax instead of receiving salary on which tax and NIC would be payable.”

FLEXIBLE WORKING

Everyone’s familiar with ‘rush hour’, the clogged, stressful journey to get to work. However, commuting times can be slashed dramatically by introducing flexible working hours. Changing working hours to avoid rush hour can save fuel, reducing the employee’s environmental impact greatly. A less busy journey to work can also reduce chances of being late, and put your employees in a better mood too!

Taking flexible working further is the four day week. By working longer hours when at work, employees benefit from missing out on the rush hour but also cut out a day’s worth of fuel use and emissions. Cutting out this 20% from the working week across a large organisation can result in a major reduction in the company’s environmental impact. This is an idea certainly worth considering for bigger organisation’s who have the the people capacity to accommodate these kind of changes.

WORKING FROM HOME

Of course, the greenest commute is the one you don’t make at all! Thanks to modern technology, most jobs can be carried out remotely at home, saving fuel and wasted time due to the commute. Of course, there are issues with working at home; management can’t keep an eye on their staff, and the resentment can build if certain people are allowed to work from home, whilst other aren’t. This is why it’s important to find balance, and the best solution for the individual.

FOR THOSE WHO MUST DRIVE

The majority will always insist on driving to work. In fairness, for some employees based far from work, it is the only viable option outside of home-working. However, that’s not to say improvements can’t be made to make the journey better for the environment.

BUY EFFICIENT VEHICLES

Do your employees have a company car? Make sure there is an option to buy a more eco-friendly model. Nowadays, most car manufacturers have fuel efficient ranges, and even hybrid models. Modern technology includes ‘Stop-Start’, where the engine switches off when sitting stationary in traffic.

ENCOURAGE REGULAR MAINTENANCE

Not only is important for staff to consider their health and safety, ensuring a car is in tip-top condition will result in a more efficient car. Keeping tyres inflated to the right levels, for example, results in 3% fuel savings. Ensuring the car is regularly serviced according to manufacturer guidelines also ensures it remains at its most efficient.

For many more ideas on eco friendly driving, see our dedicated guide using the link below.

‘Eco Friendly Driving’ article

A helping hand

With the EU and UK government trying to reduce emissions through more efficient travel, there are a number of funding and grant schemes out there to help businesses implement strategies like the above. For example, Sustainable Routes provide £1,000 worth of matched funding for businesses in the South of England to allow employees to work remotely; everything from laptops, to efficient driving training, to bike sheds for those looking to cycle into the office!

Energy Saving Trust efficiency grants and loans


For more information on how to increase your business’ green credentials with ISO 14001, follow @TheBABOfficial.

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