As many of us struggled into work in the snow last week, we cursed the daily commute into the office. However, the unfortunate fact is that only a small percentage of the workforce lives close enough to their work to get there by foot, so most of us will have resorted to our usual, polluting modes of transport – car, motorbike, train or bus.
Towards the end of last year, the Eddington and Stern reports bombarded us with statistics on the irreversible effects that our daily commute is having on the environment. The years-old tradition of working nine-to-five is pushing up carbon emissions, clogging up already-congested roads and forcing commuters off trains and into gas-guzzling cars because the rail network is so over-stretched.
And now we’re going to have to pay for it.
The Eddington report proposed introducing tolls on more roads and ‘premium’ rail fares for commuters who use trains or buses at peak times.
For HR, this can only mean an increase in staff wanting to be more flexible about the structure of their working day, or seeking compensation for the rise in travel costs. Some may choose to work closer to home, forcing employers in major cities to rethink how location affects recruitment and retention.
But as our feature ‘Commuter says no’ on page 20 reveals, many of you are making great strides in greener commuting already. Some have gone as far as providing staff with bicycles others have introduced car-share schemes or flexible working programmes.
Just by allowing each employee to work from home for one day a week, claims the article, we could reduce congestion by 20%. Making this a reality, however, will prove more difficult for some industries than others, as many rely on staff being in attendance at certain times of the day.
By Jo Faragher, features editor
Personnel Today would like to hear what you are doing to reduce the environmental impact of employee journeys to work. E-mail your ideas and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org