Policy at government and local government level focuses on
encouraging "mode shift" – that is getting people to
change their mode of travel. Individuals and businesses,
however, have it in their own hands to engage in some lateral
thinking which will save them time and money by, as it were,
avoiding the M6, M25 or the local bottlenecks and going to work
on the "information superhighway".
Working from home reduces rush hour traffic
Eliminating some commute trips altogether by spending part of
each week or even occasional days working at home has the
potential to make a significant impact in reducing peak hour
A cautious estimate by the Review of Telework in Britain
(1995), commissioned by the Parliamentary Office of Science and
Technology reported that:
"the best available estimates for the UK suggest that
home-based teleworking reduced total UK miles by some 1% in
1993 and that the long term potential is for some 5% to 12% of
total car use to be substituted by telecommuting".
Working at local centres helps ‘multi site’ staff
Working from local offices – or "telecentres" –
instead of the central office also reduces commute miles. A
study of US and Scandinavian telecommuting centres in 1995 found
that the number of commute miles saved each time a worker used
the centre ranged between 38.5 and 150 miles, or 93.4 miles on
Monitoring at Surrey County Council’s Epsom telecentre
found that users reduced the length of their commute journey on
average by 19%, and its duration by 36%, reflecting the effect
of congestion on their normal journey to the base office.
Replacing business travel with electronic communication
A study by the RAC projects that by 2007 videoconferencing
will cut business travel by 20%. This is a difficult area to
predict as companies place a high value on physical face-to-face
meetings, and the tax regime has hitherto financially rewarded
the clocking up of high work mileage.
But it is not just videoconferencing which is having an
impact. Routine electronic sharing of information by email,
electronic data interchange and the use of extranets all impact
on the need to travel to meetings by reducing the need for
meetings to exchange routine information and opinions.
Face-to-face meetings should be reserved for team-building and
making crucial decisions.
Increasingly, diagnostic and monitoring activities can also
take place over electronic networks. This allows instant
response, cuts travel and boosts productivity.
Working on the move
In the UK some 30% of the workforce regularly travel as part
of their job.
For these workers unnecessary travelling and much greater
efficiency can be introduced by using laptop computers and
remote access technologies from home, from telecentres and
"touchdown" sites, from client sites and by using
wireless communication from anywhere.
It is important to recognise that for many kinds of business
it remains vital to be out on the road and visiting customers or
sites. The business mileage of such workers may be reduced in
- eliminating repeated journeys to and from the base office,
by allowing work to take place from anywhere
- after initial meetings, building up online working with
partners, contractors and customers to save repeat visits.
One important aspect of reducing congestion is that in
eliminating unnecessary journeys roadspace can be freed for
essential business users, public transport and emergency