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Time to reimagine the commute

Jamie Mackenzie, Director - Sodexo Engage

It’s Commute Smart Week and research from the Rail Delivery Group shows that less than half of commuters in the UK are back using the train again compared to before the pandemic. While there has been a welcomed shift in working styles with many opting for work from home, or hybrid, for those who do venture into the workplace, employers need to think about how they can support and reduce any burden, from cost to safety.

  1. Cycle to Work Scheme
    Last year, people in the UK racked up over 5 billion cycle miles for the first time since the 1960s. The pandemic no doubt played its part in this, having placed a spotlight on people’s physical health and mental wellbeing. Cycling is brilliant for both, and it of course has its environmental benefits too – something particularly relevant amid current conversations around COP26.

Cycle to Work Schemes helps employees who aren’t comfortable being in a crowded public transport setting while it also encourages employees to save money, reduce their carbon footprint and live healthier lifestyles. Often people struggle to find the time to exercise between work and life commitments, but cycling to the office provides a practical solution to this problem.

  1. Season Ticket Loan Scheme
    Season ticket loans work by companies paying the initial up-front cost of their employee’s travel fare for the year, and they pay it back out of their salary. Salary sacrifice benefits like this help lessen the blow and carry part of the financial burden of expensive purchases. Staff enrolled on such schemes can rest assured they are getting the cheapest deal and have peace of mind their travel is accounted for making their daily commute that bit less stressful.
  1. Flexible Work Scheme
    The return to the office couldn’t have come soon enough for some members of staff, but for others, making their return to the office has been quite daunting. While it’s true much of the population is double vaccinated and things are slowly beginning to go back to normal, we mustn’t forget the coronavirus is still out there and people’s concerns about their health are legitimate. In fact, recent research found 70% of Londoners are anxious about using public transport in the wake of the pandemic.

To combat such concerns, employers should consider implanting a flexible work scheme by way of enabling staff to determine a schedule that suits them. For instance, by starting earlier employees can avoid travelling at peak times and miss the morning rush.

Jamie Mackenzie, Director at Sodexo Engage, comments: “We recognise the duty of care employers have for their staff extends beyond the hours of the working day. Commuting makes up a significant part of people’s work routines, and employee benefit packages should reflect this.

“Whether it be supporting individuals financially, such as through season ticket loans, or spotlighting their wellbeing either through cycling or flexible work schemes, HR professionals can make a real difference to their staff’s commute through rewards.”

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