As some employers start to think about a phased return to the workplace, now could be the time to rethink our daily commute. Chris Coates spoke to Travel South Yorkshire’s marketing manager Richard Pilgrim to find out how the Active and Sustainable Travel team are preparing for the return to office working.

For many workplaces, 2020 became a year dominated by remote and flexible working. The daily commute came to a sudden pause with the kitchen, bedroom and lounge becoming the new place of work.

This change brought a shift in attitudes towards flexible working. Many embraced this newly offered flexibility and could regain some of that previously lost commuter time. Across our region, we were typically spending up to 50 minutes per day commuting – an amount that has steadily increased over the last few years.

Many businesses embraced working from home, adapting to the new norms, revisiting ways to improve working arrangements and providing their staff with a more balanced working life. At the same time, businesses invested in getting their workplaces COVID-safe as they prepared for growing numbers of staff to return. With the outlook looking brighter for 2021, more employers will be looking at how they can safely re-introduce more of their teams back to the workplace.

For many the return to work will bring a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The concerns of staff will be well-catered for on-site, but there will inevitably be anxiety for some around resuming the daily commute, even if it is on a less regular basis.

Everyone wants to travel safely, whether it is on foot, by bike or using the tram, train, bus or car. Sometimes travelling by car may be the only option but with increased traffic and the almost inevitability of growing congestion, now is the perfect time to re-think how we choose to move in 2021.

Travel South Yorkshire’s Active and Sustainable Travel team works with employers to help their employees make more informed travel choices. Flexible working arrangements may mean people are commuting less, but this also provides an opportunity to try alternative ways to move around which could be healthier and more active!

Could you park further away from your workplace and adopt a ‘park and stride’ approach to your journey?

Could you combine the car with a short public transport trip by using a Park and Ride facility?

Is there a public transport option that you could try meaning you could ditch the car altogether?

Could you drive on fewer days and switch some of those trips to walking or cycling?

By reducing the amount of time spent in cars, we can reduce traffic in town and city centres whilst also building some activity into what could have been a sedentary day.

Flexibility and patience will be key as we begin to travel more over the coming months. We can all play our part, whether it’s switching to a different mode of travel or even retiming our journeys. We will all have to think about our commute that little bit more.

The Active and Sustainable Travel team is keen to work with businesses of all sizes to see how they can help more people re-think their journey to work.

To find out how Travel South Yorkshire’s Active and Sustainable Travel team can help your workplace, contact sustainabletravel@sypte.co.uk or visit travelsouthyorkshire.com/workplace

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