Having a company car can be extremely useful, practical, and let’s face it – something of a status symbol. But in today’s modern business world, with digital connection being stronger than ever, and remote working being more effective than ever, are company cars still needed?
There are benefits to having company cars available, and they are certainly important for employees and staff who need to travel, but how many meetings these days actually need to be done face to face, when an online meeting or group chat can be just as effective, and a whole lot cheaper?
Face-to-face communication does have its place, and it can help people to engage and connect at a deeper level, but for updates, briefs, or simple topics – it doesn’t make sense either financially or environmentally to have people travel far and wide to meet, when they can turn on their laptop or phone instead.
A study conducted by Forbes found that online conferences produced 66 times less greenhouse gas emissions than in-person gatherings, and the overall cumulative energy demand (CED) was considerably lower. By running on renewable or sustainable energy as well, this has the potential to further lower the environmental impact of the gathering, and that’s just the holding of it – when you take into consideration travel and the emissions and gases released by transport, there is even greater impact.
It has even been suggested that by transitioning to virtual conferencing from in-person meetings, the carbon footprint of these events can be reduced by 94% and the energy usage by 90%.
What Should You Do About Essential Travel?
When deciding whether or not to attend an event, host a gathering, or require travel by employees, companies need to determine whether it’s actually essential or not – and then determine whether the event should take place.
By reducing the number of events, or making travel restricted to essential trips only, businesses can not only make a positive environmental impact, but can also reduce the costs associated with owning and operating a fleet of company cars.
When planning your events, consider:
- Does this need to be an in-person event?
- What digital or telephonic options would also work?
- Where is the optimal location for the easiest and most convenient access?
- What is the public transport like in the area?
- Would hiring a multi-person carrier or bus be suitable?
- What other forms of transportation would work for the venue?
- Are there any incentives you can offer employees to travel eco-friendly?
- Do these events and access to them match your company vision and values?
Companies that need to travel must look at their company cars and evaluate the environmental impact they’re having. One of the most popular alternatives, other than using public transportation – which isn’t always available, reliable, or appropriate – is to make use of electric vehicles (EVs).
Electric Vehicles emit far fewer greenhouse gases, and less air pollutants than either petrol or diesel cars, and most electric cars have enough range for a daily commute. They aren’t entirely emission free, with particles from road, tyre, and break wear-and-tear still having an impact, but they are considerably more eco-friendly than traditional petrol or diesel options.
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What Does the Future Hold for Company Cars?
A study by Willis Towers Watson in 2021 found that employees are seeking to overhaul their company car policies, and 57% indicated that the introduction of more environmentally friendly behaviours was the trigger for this.
Whilst there are still actions and businesses that cannot be sustained by digital connections alone, then company cars will still be a necessity – but as more people become aware of their sustainable obligations and expect their places of work to hold themselves to higher standards, the drive and desire for more suitable vehicles is going to continue to grow.
Companies with company car fleets should be looking at their existing vehicles and take a phased approach to replacing them where it would be financially unsustainable or inappropriate to replace them all at once.
Making these changes doesn’t just benefit the business on an eco-friendly level, although it certainly does help towards reaching sustainability targets and goals, but can also reduce costs, and allow for a new direction in reputation management and targeted marketing.
How we drive ourselves around in the future will also drive how people see our businesses – and sustainability, like in so many other areas, is going to be key.