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Reducing Work Travel

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 25 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Carbon Counted Co2 Carbon Dioxide Carbon

Are you one of those people who regards the opportunity to travel to meetings and conferences, especially those abroad, as a perk of the job, a chance to see some foreign places on company time and at their expense?

You'll hardly be alone if are you are. People fight for places on those kind of trips, especially to conferences and conventions in lovely locations where it's easy to slip off for a while and be a tourist without having to foot the bill.

But have you considered what all this is doing to CO2 emissions? If you're going greener in your personal life, why would your work identity be any different? So many of the journeys to these events involve air travel, one of the greatest polluters of our time. When people are consciously cutting down on the number of flights they take for holidays, shouldn't business be more responsible?

What You Can Do

It might not make you incredibly popular with you colleagues, but you could suggest cutting out travel to those overseas meetings - indeed, trying to eliminate a lot of corporate travel.

These days, much of what's accomplished in meetings can just as easily be done with teleconferencing and through virtual meetings. As well as reducing your firm's carbon footprint, which not only makes for good PR, it also plays into the government's Climate Change Levy, increases productivity (since employees aren't gone from the office for a few days at a time) and helps boost profits, since you're cutting travel expenses.

Of course, it's only the top bosses who can authorise this, and they might well like those trips as much as anyone else. But it's well worth the suggestion. It's quite probable that over 50% of all corporate travel could be replaced with other forms of communication.

What Do You Need?

The simple fact is that many of the meetings involving flights have always been ones where the meat and potatoes of the agenda could have been dealt with in other ways - even on the phone. To be fair, face-to-face contact is always best, but now that can largely be achieved with teleconferencing and videoconferencing. So much corporate travel has become a dinosaur, well past its usefulness, especially as business travellers tend to pay premium fares with airlines.

Your company needs to be able to get its job done. In the instances where in-person meetings are vital, that's fine. Appearances at conventions can be important sales tools, and from time to time, people do need to go to conferences, which can be great spurs to research. But even if you only eliminate 50% of the corporate air travel from the budget, that can make a huge difference in the long term.

How It Becomes Part Of A Strategy

Companies need a strategy to help reduce their carbon footprint, and cutting down on travel can certainly be one plank in the overall platform. Depending on the amount involved, it could be a substantial factor. Certainly it can be part of a greater transport strategy.

Your company might decide to run its vehicles on gas or biofuel, for instance. That will have an effect. Suggesting car pooling will also help. But eliminating most air travel will not only have a big effect, it will also show a solid commitment to the company becoming greener.

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