Sustainability is a big concern for businesses today. More people have grown aware of climate change and want to support eco-friendly companies, and many corporations have realized how much they impact the environment.
One of the key areas to address in sustainability is transportation. Transport accounts for 29% of all greenhouse gas emissions, the most of any category. If businesses can help their employees have a greener commute, they can significantly reduce pollution.
Here are seven strategies for encouraging sustainable commuting in the workplace.
Install Bike-Friendly Infrastructure
Bicycles are one of the best options for eco-friendly commutes, as they’re entirely emissions-free. Employers can encourage workers to pedal to work by installing more bike-friendly infrastructure. Without these changes, employees may find biking too inconvenient to do every day.
While electric bikes today can go 70 miles or more on a single charge, they’re still inconvenient if there’s nowhere to park them. Employees need available, secure bicycle racks to keep them safe while they’re inside working. Similarly, the parking lot itself should provide plenty of visibility and even dedicated lanes to keep cyclists safe from motor traffic.
Other changes to consider include lockers for helmets and other gear, showers and available bike locks. With these amenities, workers will be more likely to cycle to work.
Set up a Carpooling System
Another way to reduce commute-related emissions is to encourage carpooling. If two people travel together instead of separately, they can cut their output in half. Communicating that benefit may help more employees carpool, but businesses can do more, too.
Workplaces can create a system where people sign up to drive on different days and pick each other up. Promoting the financial benefits of carpooling can encourage participation. Carpooling just 20 days a month could cut driving expenses by 40%-50%, and taking turns will reduce wear and tear on people’s vehicles.
An organized system for carpooling schedules makes it more convenient. Employees may even have suggestions for how to improve it based on their experience.
Make Schedules More Flexible
Some non-transportation-related changes can encourage sustainable commuting, too. One of the most eco-friendly ways to do so is to work from home. Employers can make schedules more flexible and let some people work remotely throughout the week, reducing overall emissions.
Flexible hours can have other positive benefits, too. Studies show that nearly 60% of workers are more productive when working from home. Businesses don’t need to embrace a fully remote workforce, but letting some employees work from home for part of the week could help.
Similarly, flexible starting hours in the office could promote green commutes. With more time to get to work, more employees may be willing to take slower but cleaner options like biking or walking.
Cover Public Transportation Costs
Public transportation is another easier, cleaner alternative to driving alone to work. Some commuters can reduce their emissions by 20 pounds of CO2 a day by switching to public transport. Businesses can encourage using these systems by offering to cover their cost.
While buses, trains and similar options are often inexpensive, workers may still be hesitant to pay for them. Employers that cover the cost of public transportation passes remove that barrier. These systems would suddenly become a far more convenient option.
Some cities even have programs where employers can provide discounted transport passes to their employees. Partnering with local transit authorities to take advantage of or set up these offerings can reduce the related costs of implementation.
Get a Green Company Car
Businesses that have a company vehicle can switch to a greener alternative. Electric cars have become far more affordable and convenient than they used to be, making them a viable option for company transportation. An electric company car provides workers with access to emissions-free transport for some of their travel needs.
Tax incentives can help lessen the cost of switching to these alternatives. The U.S. currently offers a $7,500 tax credit for electric cars, and new legislation could bump that to $12,500. With that amount of savings, adopting a green company car may not be a significant financial burden for businesses.
When companies go green with their cars, it may inspire some employees to do likewise. Workers may opt for an electric vehicle when it comes time to buy a new one after driving one at work.
Make Driving Less Convenient
Many strategies for encouraging sustainable communing revolve around making these options more convenient. The inverse can also be effective. If businesses make driving to work less agreeable, more workers may opt for alternatives.
The most straightforward way to go about this is to address parking lots. Studies show that more spaces lead to more driving and less transit use and walking. If a workplace had fewer parking areas, less people might drive and opt for public transportation instead.
Businesses taking this route should be careful not to punish drivers. Driving is the only feasible option for some people, so it should still remain possible. However, making small changes to make it less convenient can yield positive results.
Lead by Example
No matter what other changes an employer makes, they should lead by example. If a business pressures its employees to be more sustainable while leadership keeps their old routines, these efforts will seem hypocritical and be counterproductive. Change should start at the top.
Employers should take public transportation, carpool, bike or walk to work at least weekly. When employees see that management takes these initiatives seriously, they’ll be more likely to join in. More people getting involved in the effort will increase its effectiveness.
People like to feel they’re part of a larger movement, especially if it’s for a good cause like environmentalism. Company leaders that commit to the initiative will create that air of togetherness. More employees will be willing to get involved and go green.
Businesses Can Make a Big Difference by Commuting Sustainably
Transportation is one of the most significant factors in a business’s carbon footprint. By encouraging sustainable commutes, companies can reduce a considerable portion of their transportation-related emissions. With the entire staff involved, even small changes can add up to make a big difference.
These seven steps provide a guideline for how any company can go green with commuting. Employing one or more of these tactics will encourage the highest participation from employees, leading to the most substantial improvements.