- Most people aren’t big fans of their commutes, especially if they spend valuable hours stuck in traffic just to get to and from work.
- Commuting negatively affects a person’s wellbeing and health, but it is also detrimental to the environment.
- Businesses can improve their talent and client attraction and retention efforts by providing alternative transportation options to get to and from the office.
This article was written by Holly Welles
Wake up, get ready, commute, work, repeat — it’s the morning schedule of Americans everywhere. For most of us, the commute part revolves around a car. According to the 2016 American Community Survey, about 150 million workers drove approximately 115 million vehicles to and from work every day.
These congested streets do little for us. For one thing, cars contribute to air pollution. Sitting in a car for hours doesn’t do much for our health, either. Fortunately, though, today there’s more than one transportation option for commuters.
Yes, they can drive, but they can also cycle or walk to work. In some cities, they have the option to catch public transportation. Even carpooling does better for the environment than driving alone.
As a manager or business owner, you want to impart your staffers (and clients) with these same benefits. Below are seven ideas that you can implement to motivate and encourage employees to switch up their morning commutes while at the same time contribute to the environment and their personal wellbeing.
1. Provide Transport Yourself
Bigger companies have the luxury of shuttling their employees to and from the office, thus taking hundreds or thousands of cars off the road in the process. Google, for instance, did so at their Silicon Valley headquarters. They used biodiesel buses to transport more than 6,000 employees from San Francisco to their office every single day.
Google challenged staffers to try taking the buses once a month, then once a week. Even cutting down on commuting solo could cut down on air pollution. From there, many employees started taking the buses at a daily clip because they realized the benefits.
2. Subsidize Transportation Options
If you want your staff to rely more heavily on public transit, consider subsidizing (fully or partially) their treks to and from work. Many companies allow their employees to use pre-tax dollars to buy public transit cards. Alternately, they subsidize the cost of a monthly pass themselves.
Such a financial incentive can inspire more people to take buses or trains instead. Plus, you’ll free up parking spaces at your business location and be able to reap the marketing benefits of being an eco-conscious business.
3. Choose a Commute-able Location
Before you lease your company’s first or next location, look at it from a commuter’s perspective. How will people travel to get to this particular spot? Where do most of your employees reside? If you can, try to select an office space that’s accessible by public transport or, at least, in a walkable or bike-friendly area.
Suggested Reading: “Why Flexible Workspaces in APAC Need to Be Close to Transportation Hubs”
This gives your employees options on how to get into work. As a bonus, a good location can be a boon to talent and client retention, too. Potential staffers and customers will love to see that you’ve chosen an easy-to-get-to spot for your business.
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4. Add Commuter-Friendly Facilities
Businesses can make alternative transportation options more feasible by improving their workplace amenities. You should install bike racks or another cycle-centric parking option so that bikes stay safe and secure during the day. You can also create a shower and locker room to help employees recover from a morning bike ride.
Facilities are constantly evolving, too. Uber has recently announced plans to unveil dockless electric bikes to make urban mobility more widely accessible. If your office location is plagued by commuter congestion, an officewide bike-sharing program or subsidies for the use of city bikes can go a long way in encouraging adoption.
5. Start a Carpooling System
Not every office will be in a place that’s safe to walk or cycle to, and that’s okay — you have more options. One way to improve staffers’ commutes is to encourage everyone to carpool. Start with sign-up sheets in the lunchroom or by initiating a conversation on the company message board.
Interested parties can connect with those who live nearby and, together, they can start driving to work. The more people in a car, the better.
6. Ditch Driving Perks
Do you provide staff members with parking discounts? How about on-site parking spaces? If you want fewer people to drive, cut down on these programs. Once commuting by car becomes more expensive, your team will think twice about getting behind the wheel.
This may seem like an extreme solution, but in an urban location, parking can quickly get unmanageable for major companies. Of course, you should only take this route if you’re willing to support your employees’ ability to financially and physically access alternate transportation options.
7. Advocate for Improved Transit Links
Finally, use your company’s local influence to improve transit in your area. Business owners can lobby for new public transport links, from protected bike lanes to more expansive bus routes. Make your voice heard and contact local interest groups and politicians with offers to help make these development opportunities happen.
More thoughtful transit options will help rope in higher-quality staff who want to work somewhere well-connected. It’ll also decrease air pollution and congestion. A healthy community will support you and your workforce as you pursue development that will improve everyone’s quality of life.
Improving Alternate Transportation Options for Employees
The above seven tips can help businesses on their quest to make commutes better for your team and the environment in one swoop. All you have left to do is figure out the program(s) you want to implement and then get started.
In the end, everyone will be better for your efforts, your staff and those in the local area who can breathe a bit easier with fewer cars on the road.
About the Author
Holly Welles is a real estate writer with a focus on millennial experiences at home and at work. You can find more of her research on workforce trends on her own blog, The Estate Update, where she researches the best places to live and work.