Off to work we go!

Enlighten • Pulse #4 • 4 min
By Caroline Mouy

Worldwide, the private car is the main form of trans- port for 64% of working people (Source), and one in five commuters spends over 90 minutes a day at the wheel (Source) — with all the familiar consequences: congestion, pollution, accidents and stress. As the main decision- makers on how work is organ- ised, companies have a major role to play in changing behaviours and developing shared mobility.

Environmental imperatives and growing urban congestion have driven the emergence of mobility management tools, especially in Europe and the United States, along with the development of company mobility plans. The goal is to reduce single occupancy car use by encouraging shared mobility like public transport and ride sharing as well as walking, cycling and other forms of soft mobility.


One of the first to implement a mobility plan was London Stansted Airport, which initially had poor public transport links. In 2002, Stansted embarked on a mobility plan, which effectively increased the number of employees using public transport from 7% to 17% in five years by harnessing information acquired using a staff travel survey exploring characteristics including their job types, travel habits and the range of public transport services and fares available.

Siemens was another early pioneer in Belgium. After encouraging staff to use public transport and bicycles by paying some of the costs, it now offers incentives for company car drivers; if they choose a more modest vehicle, or one with a smaller engine, they receive an additional subsidy for alternative mobility solutions.

Meanwhile, for the last 15 years, private shuttle buses have been carrying thousands of people a day from San Francisco to the corporate campuses of the Silicon Valley tech giants, about 30 miles away.

Today, these kinds of initiatives are moving to a new level, with stricter regulations in some countries. In Italy, for example, companies with more than 300 employees must appoint a mobility manager. In January 2018 in France, the law on energy transition for greener growth made it mandatory for all firms with over 100 people on the same site to implement a mobility plan. Forthcoming legislation goes even further by requiring all companies with more than 50 employees to discuss travel-related issues at mandatory negotiations with employee representative bodies.


All these efforts to foster shared mobility are taking place amid a growing conversation about how companies can adopt more flexible organisational models. The more forward-thinking are looking at workspace location, remote working and flexible hours to reduce the number of home-to-work journeys.

As well as the obvious environmental benefits, mobility plans can be highly advantageous for companies in terms of attractiveness, quality of life in the workplace, absenteeism and cost outlays. Consultancy firm BeMobi (Source) estimates that such a plan can reduce a company’s travel-related expenses by 5% to 20%, with savings in season tickets and mileage allowances, the cost of buying and managing a company vehicle fleet, parking facilities and more.

Furthermore, a study by the Laboratoire de la Mobilité Inclusive (Source) revealed that 41% of employers in France have experienced difficulties in filling vacancies due to mobility issues and that 59% have had successful candidates turn down job offers for the same reason.


Despite the many benefits of a mobility plan, figures and feedback shows there’s still a lot of resistance to change. In France, for example, only 8% of firms required to implement a mobility plan had complied with the regulation by January 2019 (Source).

One key to success is to think beyond simply the physical forms of transport. “The exercise begins by asking what task or activity gives rise to the journey in the first place. Then, and only then, you start searching for mobility solutions,” says Jean-Luc Hannequin, who jointly manages the Booster de Mobilité Augmentée platform, which helps organisations in the mobility transformation (Source).

French construction firm Cardinal Edifice is pioneering this approach. “It’s typically managing over 40 sites at the same time. So, to reduce the amount of time lost by travelling between them, it developed a software program that helps organise sites more efficiently and assign the right people on the basis of skills needs, qualifications and where they live.” Showcasing the benefits of mobility plans is doubtless essential in convincing more companies to develop them.


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