How to help employees with their sustainable commute

Commuting is a daily reality for millions to get to and from work. It also has a significant environmental impact as it contributes to transport emissions which make up 16% of all global CO2 emissions, with road transportation emitting 6 billion tonnes of carbon every year. How can we help support employees and encourage sustainable commuting to work?

In the US, UK and EU the average commuting time is just under 30 minutes, with cars being the most common way that people get to work. However, every person has a different commute. 10% of people travel just 2.5 miles for their commute day but 12% travel 10 times that amount. And whilst the car is the most popular form of transport, walking, bus, train, underground and bike are also used by millions of people. 

Commuting contributes to transport emissions, which make up 16% 
of all global CO2 emissions, with road transportation emitting 6 billion tonnes of carbon ever year

Commuting forms part of a company’s scope 3 emissions and is an area where employees need to be involved to support any company sustainability targets. To support this, we recently undertook a research project to find out what companies are doing to bridge the gap between sustainability strategies and employee action and the current best practices used by market leaders to close the gap.

Here are some real-world examples of actions taken by companies to tackle commuting emissions and encourage sustainable travel to work: 

Conduct commuting surveys

Collect data on commuting to help create a list of actions and, where appropriate, incentives for employees to reduce their commuting emissions. Surveys should help to understand more about distance, mode and regularity of commuting, as well as areas the employees may be willing to change. Ideally, conducted regularly and be completed by enough staff to represent the whole employee base. 

Implement a green travel policy

Implementing a green travel policy will not only reduce emissions but in many cases, it’ll reduce costs too. Every firm will have different policies based on their needs, but common areas to cover include commuting, business travel, ways to reduce travel, low carbon options and employee benefits.  

Educate and engage staff on the benefits of sustainable commuting

Employees need to understand the benefits, both for cost and carbon, of greener commuting. Commuting challenges and awareness-raising events are often used to reach more people. When talking with your employees about sustainable commuting, explain how company goals to lessen the environmental impact of commuting tie into broader sustainability and climate goals.  

In the US, UK and EU the average 
commuting time is just under 
30 minutes with cars being the most common way to get to work

Promote active travel

Promote active travel to help employees commute in a more sustainable and healthy way. It’s at the top of the sustainable commuting hierarchy, whilst helping employees’ physical and mental health.  

Encourage public transport

Support public transport usage so that fewer people use their own vehicle to get to work or on business trips. Support can take the form of incentives, awareness raising and recognition.  

Allow working from home when it fits with working practices

Working from home can save the carbon from commuting. However, it’s also important to understand working from home arrangements and commute lengths to make sure it’s making a positive change. Flexible working arrangements, such as office arrival times to avoid rush hour, can also help. 

Set up schemes to support sustainable commuting

Cycle to work schemes, EV salary sacrifice and carpooling are all examples of schemes that can help people travel more sustainably. Cycling to work also helps health and well-being. Salary sacrifice, or similar schemes to support EV travel purchases, can also save money. Carpooling can also foster community. 

What are the next steps?

Employees need to be involved for companies to hit their sustainability targets, but it can sometimes be challenging to shift mindsets and effectively engage them. To address this challenge we have created a guide that looks at how to engage employees around sustainable commuting, as well as business travel, energy usage at work, waste at work, and working from home. It includes: 

  • Why employees are key to meeting Net Zero targets
  • Areas of sustainability you can focus on
  • Practical suggestions and steps you can implement today
  • How to raise awareness and engage employees to get involved

If you’re ready to start raising awareness about sustainability at work, inspiring employees, and bringing teams together to support your sustainability goals then get in touch.

How to align your team with your sustainability goals guide

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