Graham Hurdle's blog: 26 March - One way of reducing congestion...
26 March 2012
Graham Hurdle is managing director of E-Training World
The Prime Minister has said there is an urgent need to repair the "decades-long degradation" to our roads and "build for the future with as much confidence and ambition as the Victorians once did".
He argued it was clear there was not enough capacity on the roads in busy areas and that, "there's nothing green about a traffic jam - and gridlock holds the economy back."
From a company perspective, this announcement should surely reignite the debate about the necessity of many business outings and whether travel to and from meetings could be reduced.
Less meetings and less mileage per company driver per day offer numerous benefits. Less vehicles on our roads, less money spent on vehicles and fuel, less pollution to the environment, less accidents, improved productivity for members of staff, reduced stress levels... it's a long and very persuasive list.
I have said on many occasions that I believe very large quantities of business travel to and from meetings is needless.
When I analyse our own activity within E-Training World we can reflect on a large proportion of meetings that, having battled through the traffic and sat behind the wheel for several hours, we could have quite easily conducted by phone or web conference.
I find it hugely ironic that we built up a superb working relationship with our distribution partners in Australia via Skype but still jump in the car to see a prospect in Guildford.
With our Australian colleague, we can have an hour's meeting at 8am and be onto other activities by 9am.
With our prospect in Guildford we leave at 7am to face the traffic, have the same hour-long meeting, and be back by 2pm, tired, stressed, with over half a day lost and a fuel receipt reminding us of the soaring costs.
Yet business travel is a cultural issue in the UK. Customers and prospects expecting to see their account manager, or a sales representative, at their offices and rarely questioning why.
Sales managers looking at their team's appointment rates and telling them to get out and see more people, sales people being judged as ineffective if they are seen at their desk too often and no-one having the courage to stand up and point out the problem.
At E-Training World, we have taken our own stance by rarely asking suppliers to come and see us unless both parties feel it's absolutely necessary.
We also make every effort to meet up with them when our paths are crossing, to avoid them making a specific journey, and we tell customers that we are more than happy to conduct meetings by phone or online, promoting the benefits to them that it will save us all time and money.
Some will argue that face-to-face relationships will never be replaced by the web, however the new breed of business people emerging from our universities, schools and colleges see online communication as a completely normal way of life.
So, let's all do our bit to cut down congestion, and in doing so reduce our travel costs, by questioning each journey rather than jumping into the car with blind acceptance.
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