Car Free Day can put businesses on the road to flexibility

Richard Morris
A day of ditching cars could inspire businesses to be more flexible in other ways (Source: Getty)

Today is World Car Free Day - an initiative designed to raise awareness of green issues and sustainability. Several places in the UK are closing roads in support of the project, including Lambeth, which is closing Cornwall Road to cars on Saturday 24 September.

While such ‘world event’ days are becoming increasingly commonplace, corporates would do well to monitor the conversation around Car Free Day. According to the latest research, the average UK motorist spends 47 minutes every day commuting to and from work. This adds up to more than 100 hours a year behind the wheel – with an obvious related impact on the environment.

Little wonder that businesses are re-thinking workspace strategy with issues of sustainability in mind, recognising that flexible working arrangements can eliminate the unnecessary carbon emissions, wasted time and loss of productivity associated with a lengthy car journey to the office.

More and more firms find the traditional office set-up of one central location and one desk per person entirely incompatible with modern work styles. Staff that work flexibly, using local drop-in and part-time workspace, have a far lower carbon footprint than those commuting to a large, permanent office.

Of course, environmental benefits are only a part of the story. Flexible working is well understood to improve employee wellbeing – and happier staff are proven to be more productive.

Read more: Flexible working: How to get it right

Undoubtedly, the issue of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a cause that matters for a lot of employees, especially the latest generation of talented workers.

We regularly survey our customer base and recently asked UK professionals for their views on the importance of CSR. Over a third of respondents (37 per cent) revealed that, if faced with two similar job offers, they would choose the offer from the company displaying a more tangible CSR track record.

Corporate social responsibility has perhaps been regarded as a nice-to-have by many businesses rather than an essential element of business strategy. But, for today’s professionals, such initiatives are incredibly important. So too is the ability to work flexibly. Far from being a perk, flexibility around working hours and location is regarded as a must-have for millennials.

Those businesses inspired by World Car Free Day can easily make good intentions a reality. The UK boasts some of the most inspirational and well-designed workspaces, and the network grows on a weekly basis. Those businesses failing to adapt to a changing employee mindset may find themselves missing out on the cream of the employee talent.

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