Any commuter who drives to work knows traffic isn’t going anywhere any time soon. In fact, commutes are reaching all-time highs, with commuters spending 27 minutes on the road each way. That means drivers are losing nearly one hour per day, five days a week. This could be spent doing far more productive things, like getting work done or simply having more time to relax at home.
Depending on where your office is located and where your employees are coming from, you can help change the way they commute. Challenging your employees to a car-free or car-light commuting week can be the perfect event to get the ball rolling on more permanently adjusting their commutes.
We know it’s hard to get people to break their routine, especially when it comes to commuting. Since commuting is seen as a chore by most, out-of-the-box thinking could be required to really get everyone interested.
Incentives may be just the thing to convince your employees to change their commuting habits for a week. You don’t have to get carried away by offering a month of PTO, but something to give a little nudge to your employees can go a long way.
Try offering an extra PTO day to the top five to 10 employees who make the most effort to leave their cars at home. Nothing is better than a surprise long weekend or taking off a random Wednesday , especially when it’s with house money.
Help! They need somebody
Getting employees to trade their car commute for a week is going to require more than just offering them a reward. You have to be on hand to help employees find available alternatives and make sure they can use said options successfully. Public transit can be confusing even for experienced riders. Commuters who seldomly use a bus or metro system may need a little extra help.
Two of the biggest pain points for riding public transit are where and how to put money on a transit card and knowing which line and stops to take. This is where you need to come in and help! Helping employees know exactly where they need to go, when to get off, and if they need to transfer will greatly help them with the transition.
To easy the pain, you should sit down with an employee to find the closest bus or metro stop to their residence. From there you can work backwards to find which lines they need to take to reach their final destination. Once the route is decided upon, you can help them set up an online account for a transit pass (if your transit system has the ability) or go through the steps of adding money at the station. When you figure out the cost of their commute, they can add that amount directly onto their card. If an employee decides that transit is the best long-term solution for their commute, they can add pre-tax money directly from their paycheck, saving both of you money.
Some employees might live closer to the office, where bicycling is a better option than public transit. It’s again up to you to help employees know the rules of the road, where they can find safe areas to ride, and where they can securely keep their bike during the day. To find more information, try working with a local bicycling association to provide tips and tricks in your area.
Options, options, options
Public transit and bicycling to the office are amazing ways to ditch cars, but not every commuter has the luxury of access to a full metro system or a bike lane from their front door to the office. This is where you can get creative to get employees out of their cars for a car-light commuting week.
Sometimes driving is the only option, but that doesn’t have to mean driving alone. Encouraging employees to carpool is a great way to get extra cars off the road, while also saving employees money on gas. Working with employees to set a pickup location and set a schedule means all they have to do is meet and drive! A little extra incentive, like a gas card, can make the change that much easier.
It might be that the best way for your employees to avoid driving to work is by not working in the office at all. Allowing employees to work remotely means their commute could be from one room of their home to another. This might not be a permanent option, but allowing them to do so during a car-light week can let you test the waters.
Don’t miss the opportunity to gain productive feedback from your employee on what worked, what didn’t work, and what is needed to make this transition easier and more permanent. A car-light week only makes sense if you're planning to have employees change their commute on a more consistent basis. Not every employee will have the same experience, but being able to get a handful of employees to change their commuting behavior can have a positive impact.
Once you collect feedback, put it to use by building out a commuter benefits program or make improvements to your existing one. Adding these benefits to your new-hire onboarding process is another way to lower your company’s drive-alone commute rate. By letting new employees know on their first day – or even before they start – which benefits you offer, they can adopt an alternative commuting method from the jump.
Do you want to know what else you can do to get your employees to adopt an alternative form of commuting? Download our new, free TDM ebook!