Commuter life is set to look very different with the rise of employers implementing flexible working. Anna McGuire caught up with Travel South Yorkshire’s marketing manager Richard Pilgrim to find out all about the Active and Sustainable Travel team’s plans for the future of commuting and their guide for employers
In March life as we knew it changed and while many employers across a number of key sectors continued to operate throughout the pandemic, for many their ‘world of work’ changed almost overnight without any warning. The daily commute came to an abrupt end and the kitchen, bedroom and lounge became the new place of work.
The past four months has challenged many of the previous norms around work with businesses and their employees now questioning what they think of as their workplace. With no notice, employers and their staff had to quickly adapt to their new surroundings. The day-to-day interactions went from physical to virtual and a quick catch up over a coffee in the office turned into a meeting over the laptop.
This change brought a real shift in attitude towards flexible working with many embracing this flexibility whilst also rediscovering some of that previously lost commuter time. After all, across our region, we were typically spending up to 50 minutes per day commuting to and from work – an amount that has been steadily increasing year-on-year.
Many businesses have embraced working from home and intend to continue a flexible working policy in the future. An increasing number of companies are revisiting ways they can improve their working arrangements, policies and procedures to offer their staff a more balanced working life. Businesses are also investing their time in getting the workplace COVID-safe as they prepare for the return of staff members over the coming weeks and months.
For many, a return to work will bring challenges – a mixture of excitement and trepidation. The needs and concerns of staff will be well-catered for on-site, but there will inevitably be anxiety for some around the return to the daily commute, even if it is on a less regular basis.
As lockdown restrictions continue to ease, we have the perfect opportunity to rethink how we choose to travel and to make our trips more ‘active’ ones. There is a growing appetite to change the way we travel, reduce time spent commuting and to get more active, whether that is on foot, by bike or by incorporating public transport into these journeys, for example, through Park and Ride.
The new normal that we are now moving into is a great opportunity for employers to shape the debate, help their employees incorporate more of these active trips into their daily routines, and support a more active and healthier workforce.
As we look towards the future, Travel South Yorkshire’s Active and Sustainable Travel team are here to help. The team have developed a ‘guide for employers’ to help get the conversation going between employers and their employees about the importance of travel choice. As we look to build back better, it’s important that we are able to think through our options so that employers and employees can openly talk about commuter travel.
We want to be on-hand to support where we can and though things may not change for many in the workplace, many employees’ perspectives of commuter travel may be different in comparison to six months ago. Key topics that may arise could include:
Can we avoid travel at peak times?
Do we need to travel right now?
Could the journey be made on foot or by bike instead? After all, 40% of all urban journeys are under two miles.
The new guide created by Travel South Yorkshire’s Active and Sustainable Travel team provides hints and tips for people on how to get to and from work safely. The team can help everyone make better travel choices by improving the way businesses and their employees get around by:
Undertaking staff travel surveys
Hosting 1-2-1 or group travel surgeries
Providing information to enable a more active commute such as on foot or by bike.
To get your hands on a copy of the guide or to find out how Travel South Yorkshire’s Active and Sustainable Travel team can help your workplace and offer practical support, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively, visit travelsouthyorkshire.com/workplace.