Small to Medium Enterprises

Workplace Travel Plans for SMEs

Businesses of all sizes benefit from employees choosing more active and sustainable travel on the commute, on an occasional or regular basis. If you are working in an SME and would like to find out how you can promote walking, cycling, public transport or carpooling, you will find a number of resources on this site to assist you.

What can SMEs Achieve?

Smaller organisations can achieve similar successes to large employers – being smaller means it’s more likely your colleagues meet each other on a regular basis and can be engaged in any on-site events, such as bike maintenance, or team-based walking promotions. While carpooling may not work for some smaller sites (as there are less potential carpooling matches), an employee survey will show the potential for walking, cycling, public transport, and carpooling on a site-by-site basis. You may find that partnering with a neighbouring employer might open up more options in terms of actions and promotions for your organisation.

One of the Smarter Travel Workplaces ‘smaller’ Partners, Roughan and O’Donovan, have achieved fantastic results in terms of Smarter Travel – including very high levels of cycling across their workforce, winning the 2012 Sandyford Business District Commuter Friendly Workplace award, and being the repeated winners of our Best Small Workplace category in the Smarter Travel Workplaces Cycle Challenge.

Some of the benefits associated with more sustainable travel on the commute for SMEs include:

  • reduced costs associated with providing car parking;
  • reduced employers’ PRSI payments (through Cycle to Work and TaxSaver ticket schemes);
  • enhanced employee wellbeing;
  • enhanced sustainability profile;
  • reduced pressure on parking spaces; and
  • reduced business mileage costs.

How Do I Promote More Sustainable Travel in My Workplace?

Whether a large or small workplace, the steps involved are the same.

  1. Identify your implementer(s) – this can be one person, or a group of people from HR, Facilities, Finance, a Green Team or keen cyclists. One person should act as a Coordinator, with other personnel contributing as required.
  2. Review your travel patterns and policies to establish your baseline mode split and the potential for employees to walk, cycle, use public transport or carpool (see page 14 in the Implementers Guide to Workplace Travel Plans)
  3. Identify and implement actions based on feedback from your employee travel survey and an audit of your organisation’s policies (see page 27 in the Implementers Guide)
  4. Monitor your action plan so you can celebrate your successes, apply for awards and amend your action plan to continue to support employees to travel sustainably to work (see page 30 in the Implementers Guide)

What Modes Should we Promote?

What modes your SME promotes will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • how far employees are living from work – are the distances manageable on foot or by bike?
  • their start and finish times – if employees work unsocial hours, they may have less alternatives to the car
  • the availability of alternatives to the car e.g. bus routes, footpaths, safe cycle routes
  • employees’ other commitments e.g. school drop offs, carer’s commitments
  • the need of employees to travel for business – do they need to use the car to access particular sites or to bring materials, or could some journeys be done by bike or on public transport?
  • mobility-related needs – employees in late term pregnancy or with other mobility needs may be more dependent on the car, depending on where they live and how far they travel to work.
  • the size of your workplace – for carpooling in particular, carpooling matches rely on people finding colleagues with similar start times and routes to work. A smaller workplace will have less potential matches, and may achieve greater gains for other modes.
  • the interests expressed by your colleagues – a travel survey will reveal what modes people are interested in. Generally in the Smarter Travel Workplaces programme, we find that even those who usually drive to work choose other modes on occasion, and they are interested in exploring their options
  • people’s habits and expectations – if your colleagues are in the habit of using the car on the commute because it’s handy, they may welcome the encouragement to leave it behind and walk once or twice a week. They might also be interested in saving money on fuel by buying a bike through the Cycle to Work scheme. If colleagues haven’t been on public transport in a while, they might be surprised at the difference Real Time Passenger Information and other improvements have made to services! Supporting your colleagues to break habits and explore their expectations can encourage them to use more sustainable and active travel more often!

Find out more

by undertaking an employee travel survey and doing a short audit of your cycle facilities and the rest of your site!

You can find key survey analysis points in the Implementers Guide

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