Since 2020, many employees have been made to work from home. As a result, the number of business trips has fallen sharply. With most employees now returning to the office, companies are exploring new ways of managing employee mobility. This issue is now more crucial than ever.
Corporate mobility refers to the journeys employees make between home and the workplace, as well as business trips. A key issue for companies and executives, corporate mobility must now be rethought to meet two major challenges: new employee habits and the ever-increasing need to curb global warming. myLIFE has taken a look at the issue, together with some potential solutions.
The car, now and forever
Before delving in, there’s one thing you should know: in Luxembourg, the car is still the preferred means of transport for most workers. According to a Eurostat study, the Grand Duchy has the highest number of cars per capita in the EU, 681 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants. This is much higher than in neighbouring countries such as France (482) or Belgium (511). According to STATEC, Luxembourg had 433,183 private or mixed-use cars in 2021.
Despite free public transport and short journeys, residents generally prefer their car to any other means of transport.
According to the Luxembourg Transport Portal, 69% of trips in 2017 (residents and cross-border commuters) were by car, compared with 17% by public transport, 12% on foot and 2% by bicycle. Of the journeys by car, 54% were shorter than 5km. Thus, despite free public transport and short journeys, residents and cross-border commuters generally prefer their car to any other means of transport.
As the pandemic ends and work gradually returns to normal, it comes as no surprise to see traffic jams reappearing all across the country. In 2021, drivers wasted 118 hours in traffic. This is less than before the pandemic, but it may increase in the future. So what should you do? This question is all the more urgent given that cars pollute much more than the alternatives mentioned above, and because employees don’t really want to return to the office under the same conditions as before the pandemic.
New expectations post-pandemic
The pandemic has upturned professional mobility. The forced shift to remote working for many categories of employee meant that many of us saw a dramatic decline in daily travel over several months. Companies, for their part, have had to adapt quickly to this new way of working and to the new habits now appealing to many. Today, one way for companies to retain current employees and attract future recruits is to allow them to work remotely and thus avoid the traditional commute. Indeed, the last two years have profoundly changed the way people think about their professional mobility. Remote working is now taken for granted, while reducing travel time is seen as a legitimate desire.
The challenge is therefore threefold: to optimise the efficiency of travel and motivate employees, while at the same time decarbonising transport.
Adapting to these changes in how we travel and meeting employee expectations are both priorities for companies today. Companies are seeking to improve corporate mobility by studying the means of transport used and the accessibility of their premises. The challenge is therefore threefold: to optimise the efficiency of travel and motivate employees, while at the same time decarbonising transport. One way of meeting these challenges is to draw up a tailor-made plan using the mConcept service provided by Luxembourg’s Ministry of Mobility and Public Works.
Sustaining new ways of working
To adapt to new employee habits and improve their own and employees’ environmental footprint, some managers are betting heavily on working methods and tools that came into their own during the pandemic, such as remote working and video conferencing.
In addition to the possibility of offering remote working to employees on a permanent basis one or more days a week (with certain restrictions, particularly in terms of taxation for cross-border commuters), some employers are looking into setting up satellite offices at Luxembourg’s borders. These premises would be closer to home for cross-border commuters, shortening journey times. This decentralisation of the workspace is also possible for smaller companies if they pool costs by setting up co-working spaces with other companies.
Decarbonising the vehicle fleet
Transport accounts for 61% of greenhouse gas emissions. To promote sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint, some companies are prioritising electric vehicles in their vehicle fleet. To encourage employees to do the same, companies are providing charging stations and dedicated parking spaces for electric vehicles. The Luxembourg government’s objective in this regard is for fully electric vehicles to make up 49% of vehicles on the road by 2030. Companies have a role to play in this transition, since they own more than 20% of all vehicles registered in the country.
More ride sharing means fewer cars on the road.
Reducing traffic with the help of car sharing and ride sharing
To avoid hours wasted in traffic jams and to reduce the use of private cars, companies are also encouraging employees to make use of ride sharing and car sharing. To this end, they’re offering car parks and car-sharing services to employees who opt for these solutions, and encouraging them to use car-sharing apps. This reduces the total number of parking spaces required, improves employees’ daily lives and also reduces their expenses. In addition, more ride sharing means fewer cars on the road. However, an even greater reduction would be possible if priority were given to soft mobility.
Promoting soft mobility
Bicycle use has been on the rise for a number of years. Having become accustomed to cycling during lockdown, many workers now want to continue using this means of transport. In response to this trend, companies are making their premises accessible to bicycle users by providing them with spaces to park their bikes.
Facilitating the use of public transport, in particular by contributing to season tickets, is another way companies are improving mobility conditions for employees (specifically for cross-border commuters, since public transport is free in Luxembourg). The new train stations and train lines and the tram extension proposed by the government of Luxembourg could help companies achieve their goal of prioritising intermodality.
Ultimately, these solutions seem to indicate that current developments in professional mobility are beneficial both for employees and the environment. What remains to be seen is how they impact the efficiency of the work environment over the long term.