By Jenna Cyprus
Adopting social responsibility programs in your business can be intimidating. You want to do more for your community and improve your brand image, but you also don’t want to invest in the wrong approaches or spend so much money that your profits suffer drastically. Thankfully, there’s one policy that helps your business in multiple dimensions, and it comes with almost no downsides: carpooling.
Carpooling (or ridesharing) has existed since before the Great Depression. But it picked up steam in the 1970s when an oil crisis demanded that American citizens drastically cut back on their fuel consumption. Today, encouraging your employees to carpool is about more than just saving fuel; you and your workers can enjoy the following benefits:
1. Cutting emissions: One of the most important impacts of a carpooling program is a reduction in the carbon emissions your employees collectively produce. Transportation is responsible for about 31 percent of all man-made carbon dioxide emissions, which are cumulatively accelerating the severity of global climate change. In fact, every gallon of gas consumed by a vehicle results in 24 pounds of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.
Assume that your employees end up carpooling in groups of four, reducing 3 out of every 4 vehicles your company puts on the road on a daily basis. Hypothetically, if every business in the world did this, we would be able to collectively cut almost a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions instantly. Alternatively, encouraging your employees to ride their bikes or take public transportation to work, or even work from home, could help mitigate the effects of your daily commuters.
2. Encouraging punctuality: Your carpools will also naturally encourage your workers to be more punctual. Ordinarily, each employee is responsible for his or her own travel to the office and may wake up late, neglect to account for traffic or bad weather conditions, or simply dawdle when coming into work. In a carpool, other employees are counting on their driver, and the employee in question has a higher, socially-bound sense of responsibility to stay on schedule. All of your employees will arrive more or less at the same time, resulting in a more efficient and consistent office culture.
3. Reducing travel time: Though not always the case, many major cities and highways feature a designated “carpool lane” or high-volume traffic lane, which allows carpooling vehicles to get around the usual traffic. Depending on the level of traffic on a given route, this could potentially cut travel time in half, making your employees happier and giving them more time to either work or relax.
Plus, imagine a scenario where every business instituted a carpooling policy; the number of cars on the road would diminish to a fourth of what they were before, and maybe even lower!
Collectively, this would result in less congested streets and faster travel times all around. Carpooling does, on occasion, take extra time so that all members of the group can be picked up, but the benefits on the road more than make up for this investment.
4. Employee bonding: Most commutes last about 30 minutes each way, or an hour a day round-trip, meaning your carpooling groups will spend an extra five hours a week together. That’s more than enough time for your employees to get to know each other on a personal level.
On the surface, that may not seem important, but it encourages bonding between employees and over time, can improve your team’s morale. Ultimately, that will result in higher levels of productivity and smoother collaboration for team projects.
5. Multitasking: Driving responsibilities will likely shift between members of your carpooling groups, but there’s only ever the need for one driver within a given group. The other members are free to do whatever they’d like — and in the era of smartphones and tablets, that means easily knocking out some work on the way to the office.
With carpooling in place, you’ll notice your employees coming to work warmed up and caught up on emails, and you may even be able to hold conference calls and meetings with your employees while they’re en route — without distracting your drivers unnecessarily.
After looking at the title, you may find yourself wondering if a “mandate” is really necessary to get the benefits of carpooling within your office. The answer is, of course, no. Merely encouraging carpooling and establishing a culture that naturally produces its development is more than enough for the bulk of your workers to engage in the habit.
Offering rewards for carpooling employees, such as more flexible hours or even a cash bonus, may also help incentivize your crew. The point is to make carpooling a more regular feature between your employees — and both your brand image and bottom-line profitability will improve in response.
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