From the TUC

I predict the recession could lead to a travel revolution

11 Nov 2009, by Guest in Public services, Working Life

The recession could lead to a travel revolution, as organisations and staff look to cut costs during the current economic turmoil.

I’m making this prediction during Commute Smart Week, which is run by my organisation Work Wise UK. Now in its fourth year, the week  highlights a number of ways of avoiding the misery of traveling to and from work in the dark, and the depression and despondency that many experience as a result, by working and commuting ‘smarter’.

Thousands of employers are already seeing the benefits to themselves and their staff by implementing a smarter working policy. Policies such as staggering work journeys, home working, and encouraging cycling and walking, are enabling staff to get to work in a better way and in the process saving time and money whilst improving health and wellbeing.

Now, with businesses looking to make the most of their resources in the difficult economic climate, being green and commuting smart have never made more commercial sense. The CBI estimates that road congestion alone costs the UK economy some £20 billion per year. Even a limited take-up of smarter working could save £1.9 billion per year within five years.

Commuting for long periods of time has become a part of the UK’s working culture. The excessive time spent commuting is seriously affecting our work-life balance. Not only is the amount of time spent actually commuting an issue in itself, but the 9 to 5 culture with its peak travel times generates congestion on the rail, underground and road networks and as a consequence increase stress for commuters.

The knock-on effect of reducing overall traffic congestion and public transport overcrowding by extending the rush hour and reducing peak demand through smarter commuting will make the daily commute more bearable for those workers that have no choice when and how to travel.

In these cost conscious times, employees and employers are looking at the cost of travel and realising the absurd waste of time and resources, especially of one person commuting by car. Smarter commuting, making more use of walking, cycling and car sharing, combined with reducing the overall number or journeys through more remote working and more flexible working, leads to better productivity and cuts business costs. There are not only direct savings, such as mileage allowances, but also hidden costs such as parking provisions, staff retention and employee health issues that can be addressed through travel planning.

Work Wise UK has produced some useful guidance for employers and employees on commuting smarter this winter, which you can find at the Work Wise UK site. So, my advice for the months ahead is, why travel in the dark – when you can commute smart?

GUEST POST: Philip Flaxton is Chief Executive of the IT Forum Foundation, where he oversees the direction, policy and growth of the organisation’s key initiatives, including Work Wise UK, the not-for-profit initiative encouraging smarter working practices. Philip holds a number of non-executive directorships, including the boards of the Small Business Bureau and the digital signatures authentication body, t-Scheme. He also represents ITFF on a number of public and private sector strategy groups advising on the implementation of digital technology and smarter working practices.

One Response to I predict the recession could lead to a travel revolution

  1. Tweets that mention I predict the recession could lead to a travel revolution | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC —
    Nov 11th 2009, 4:58 pm

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by ToUChstone blog, ToUChstone blog and TUC news, Stronger Unions. Stronger Unions said: RT @TUCnews: The TUC is supporting Commute Smart Week. More info at a guest post from Work Wise UK's CEO, Phil Flaxton: […]