Future of face-to-face meetings still up in the air, says FleetCheck
Fleets have decisions to make over the future of face-to-face meetings and whether they will return to previous operational models or make potentially beneficial changes.
According to FleetCheck, the Government’s announcement of the 21 June target date for removing all controls over social interaction means the “theoretical end is in sight” to measures and that hundreds of thousands of company car and sometimes van drivers who have been stopped from attending face-to-face meetings can resume them.
But this now requires fleets to decide if they want to follow the Government’s time lines or wait for longer – and what their approach will be.
Peter Golding, managing director, said: “Really, what employers need to decide is whether they tell their staff to go back to how they used to work or to put new policies in place that are designed to fundamentally change their meeting culture.”
Golding pointed out that it has become widely accepted during the pandemic that company car drivers will cover fewer miles in future and there will be a more flexible relationship between home and office working, as well as much-increased use of video-conferencing.
“The feedback we are getting from our customers is that there is little appetite among the majority of drivers for returning to covering 20,000 miles a year, and that a more intelligent approach should be adopted.
“To my mind, what we should be concentrating on is using company cars and vans for the miles that are needed to maximise benefits for the business and no more. For the good of the environment, for the benefits of drivers and to minimise costs, this should be the aim.
“Exactly how policies will be constructed that achieve these objectives is not easy to say because drivers have tended to have absolute control over whether a face-to-face meeting is necessary. However, perhaps they should be given guidelines about when that kind of contact is seen as essential – when you are meeting a new customer for the first time, for example – and when it is optional – for example, does that monthly account review meeting have to be undertaken in person more than once a quarter?
“The other element to consider is to be as open as possible with your customers about this, that you are looking for your staff to cover fewer miles in the future, and to sound out their own views and expectations.
“This kind of journey management is a whole new area for fleets but one that we believe could become a central part of fleet operations in the future. The pandemic has brought few benefits to business but this could be one.”