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Adrian Bewley's blog: How to design an effective post-lockdown travel policy

Date: 16 September 2021

Workers are finally returning to the workplace - even if on a hybrid or blended basis - and there is a strong sense that business travel is making a comeback. 

Directly and with travel management companies and other suppliers, we have advised many businesses on how to design a travel policy that is fit for purpose in the post-lockdown economy.

However, we are still seeing many companies adopt a 'default' position where employees choose the best travel option to suit their need.

This is seen as employee empowerment, which is an important point to consider: how can a travel policy support employees, enable choice and deliver against business goals? 

Today, this must encourage sustainable and active travel, discourage more polluting modes, such as older privately-owned vehicles, as well as reducing unnecessary mileage.

Here are some key questions to consider: 

  • How many vehicle assets will your business need to own in the next five years? Have you mapped requirements to determine utilisation levels that ensure owned vehicles are efficiently and regularly used?
  • How many mobility requirements can be supported by more flexible arrangements? Can these arrangements be flexible and changed at short notice and with no penalties?
  • What new technology will be retained as employees return to the workplace and to what extent will video calls remain key?
  • How do employee business travel plans match to customer and contractual expectations, especially for sustainable trading? Are there measures to capture sustainability data such as CO2? Is there a verification process to ensure that priority is placed on essential journeys?
  • How many employees want to travel, and does it make sense for them to do so? Are there clear criteria for when a journey is adding value? Is technology in place to enable employees to assess the viability and requirement for a trip, as well as the best way to travel?
  • Is there a system in place to manage grey fleet and cash allowances, which are unmanaged but still affect the business's risk and CO2 footprint? Are there measures in place to educate, encourage and reward more sustainable travel options, and potentially, the decision not to travel. 
  • Is there a plan for migrating the business away from petrol and diesel? Are there areas of business mobility that could be switched to a hybrid or plug-in electric vehicle now?
  • Have mobility requirements been mapped against the network of emerging clean air and low emission zones, and how these might impact the travel budget?

Transport and travel continue to be under the spotlight as the government presses ahead with its decarbonisation policy.

The good news is that the number of sustainable, low- and zero-emission travel options is increasing.

The challenge is that most employees will default to using an older, high-emission vehicle for business travel unless these options are clear and convenient, making proactive travel planning an essential for the post-pandemic workplace.

Adrian Bewley is assistant vice president of business mobility for Europe at Enterprise Rent-A-Car