Open-access content 26th June 2009
As much as the UK workforce loves its cars, rising running costs and other stresses may inspire many to pool together - and a forward-thinking organisation can help them to do it.
26 June 2009
If your organisation is looking to reduce its carbon footprint or has a limited number of parking spaces to offer its staff, it should perhaps consider introducing a car-sharing scheme. With most UK workers relying heavily on cars to get them to and from work every day, motor vehicles are responsible for the majority of any company's carbon output.
Combine this with the fact that cars are incredibly expensive to operate and that driving to work has become an increasingly stressful experience for many, and there is a serious business case for adopting a car-sharing programme. However, as with most procedures that involve a cultural shift within a company, there are a number of considerations that ought to be taken on board.
1 Staff buy-in
In order to implement a car-sharing scheme successfully and effectively, it is absolutely crucial to have full staff buy-in. Companies need to invest time into educating staff on why they are promoting car sharing, be it to reduce carbon footprint or to combat car parking restrictions. Once staff realise that a car-sharing scheme can make their day-to-day lives easier as well as boost their individual and company's green credentials, they will be more likely to get behind the initiative.
2 Book your space
Most organisations have a limited allocation of parking spaces to offer their employees, which consistently causes problems for drivers who have to fight for spaces with colleagues. It isn't really fair that certain members of staff are guaranteed spaces and others are not, and a 'first come, first served' parking system can be infuriating and frustrating for many, who will occasionally end up parking off-site, far away from the office.
An effective way of managing this scenario is by implementing software that provides all members of staff with a fixed allocation of parking spaces per month or quarter and then allows them to book a parking space prior to setting off. For example, each member of staff receives a parking allocation of 10 or 15 days per month. This will ensure that employees are all treated equally, that they are never let down by lack of parking spaces and that driving is not taken for granted.
When the employee reaches their parking limit, they cannot book any more parking spaces for the rest of the month - this system can then be integrated with the car parking barrier system to enforce the booking guidelines. Often, if a member of staff already has a parking space pre-booked, more car-sharers are likely to request a lift to work.
3 Project management
Having a clear structure is the most important ingredient to any such initiative. Companies implementing a car-sharing scheme must provide precise details on how staff can support and participate in the scheme. Staff wanting to participate should then be able to contact a committee or project manager, who can then liaise with all participating employees and create a database of potential car sharers, grouping members of staff in separate networks based on their address, likely route to work and working patterns. The committee or project manager would then oversee all the networks and make sure that the car-sharing scheme runs smoothly. Perhaps the easiest way to set up and publicise such car-sharing networks internally is via the company intranet.
4 Local networks
If establishing internal car-sharing networks is unfeasible in your organisation, due to lack of internal communication channels, limited staff buy-in or even company size, there are a number of external car-sharing networks that are already established across the country, such as Shareacar.com, Carshare.com and the Easit network. These online set ups allow you to log in and search locally for 'buddies' that regularly car-share in your area.
5 The bigger picture
If everybody who drives to work were to car-share just once a week, traffic on our roads would be reduced by 20 per cent, dramatically reducing the carbon emissions polluting our environment.
Even though just 11 per cent of us are currently actively participating in car-sharing, more and more people are starting to understand that participating in such schemes can not only have a positive impact on the environment, but also help to save money on fuel expenses, congestion charges and other running costs.
6 Alternative Transport
Car-sharing will not be to everyone's taste and this should be taken into account. To encourage a greener ethos at work, staff should be made aware of all available alternatives to the traditional one-person-per-car option. Train maps and bus routes should be provided to all employees as part of the education process.
Paul Statham is the managing director of workplace management software specialists RNM Systems
Case Study: UnileverA perfect example of a company that has adopted this method is Unilever, which has incorporating car sharing as part of its wider green travel plan.
Unilever staff based in Leatherhead, many of whom regularly work flexibly, have recently moved away from single occupational journeys to work, promoting the use of public transport and car sharing to further reduce the company's carbon footprint.
With just 520 parking spaces available at its UK headquarters for a 1,400 strong workforce, the company has also introduced its staff to a car park booking tool, which enables staff to book parking spaces via the company's intranet in advance of travelling to work.