Driving away the stresses of work travel

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Traffic on Kingston Bridge

As the recession bites and budgets become tighter across the public and private sector, any advice on working smarter will be pounced on by businesses and organisations.

Over the years, the virtues of teleconferencing, reducing air travel and reducing car mileage have been touted as the sustainable way forward for businesses. It’s no longer enough. We’ve cut the miles, car and air, we’ve all installed video and teleconference facilities, even though they are besieged with technical difficulties, but we’re being urged by governments to do more. Bring in the ambitious targets for Scotland to reduce our carbon emissions by a staggering 40% by 2020, and all businesses, small, medium and national, must be clutching their hair and wondering what else they can give.

Well, how about choosing another way to work?

Delivering the solutions needed

Funded by the 2020 Climate Group, and supported by the Scottish Government, the Chooseanotherway website is a lifeline to businesses who just don’t know what else to do that won’t cost them lots of money and resource.

Positioning staff health and wellbeing alongside business efficiency, this website encourages readers to take business sustainability to the next level. And it isn’t all talk. BT Scotland, Aberdeenshire Council and government agencies Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) as well as ourselves have all provided details of schemes and projects they employ that are delivering the benefits for staff and the business.

At a re-launch of the website in October, the key themes of the presentations included:

  • Question whether staff need to travel in the first place.
  • Teleconferencing is much more effective than videoconferencing and is used regularly by senior staff.
  • Culture needs to change.
  • Management teams need to believe in the options they provide and see them through.
  • Home working should not be ruled out as a travel solution.
  • E-learning a good solution to some travel needs.
  • Additional benefits include delivering duty of care to staff and adherence to health and safety requirements.
  • Improved organisational reputation!
  • One presenter even expressed his aim to reduce the amount of technology he uses for work (laptop, phone, personal organiser) down to one single device that he uses for both work and personal use. A blissful thought for many of us!

Taking the first step

What will businesses and individuals find if they visit this site?

  • Travel strategy development – how to establish what your organisation travel requirements are and identify opportunities for change and reduction, how your visitors get to you and how you transport your goods and services sustainably and cost effectively.
  • Sector travel planning tools – Businesses, schools and fair groups all have different travels needs, so sector specific guidance and advice is available.
  • Case studies – what others do and how you can do the same.
  • News and publications – what’s hot and what’s not, plus links to a variety of publications with information on reducing travel.

Some of the practices encouraged will not be delivered overnight, some will require staff and management retraining and quite possibly a huge shift in an organisation’s culture that will require planning and delivery over a long period of time. But, looking at the case studies and testimonials on the home page of this site, it seems to pay off.

Additional staff benefits

A key theme throughout the website and its content is the benefits to staff when implementing some of the alternative travel solutions.

BT reported an increase in retention of staff returning from maternity leave as a result of providing flexible working options for reducing travel and reduced absenteeism, no mean feat for a national organisation.

The cost of travel is always more than the price of the ticket; it’s the cost of having a member of staff away from their desk, unable to work while driving to business appointments. It’s the time lost when stuck in traffic, instead of being able to read, catch up, telephone or work on laptops or phones when on buses or trains. And it contributes to helping individual staff manage their own worklife balance, by allowing flexible working patterns that allow life and work to cruise alongside each other calmly and successfully.

Happy, engaged staff are productive staff.

Helping the environment too

While Chooseanotherway provides practical and relevant advice to businesses on sustainable travel and alternatives to travelling for work, it has an additional purpose. Scotland has committed to reducing the carbon emissions from all the country’s activities by 40% in 2020. It can’t do that alone. Scotland needs its government, its public bodies, its businesses and its individuals to contribute to this reduction. And if making it easy to do while reducing cost, time and resource, then we may just be in with a chance of success.

Further information:

Scotland’s 2020 climate group

Aberdeenshire Council Worksmart website

Sustainable Scotland

Transform Scotland

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