“Journey approvals” could be future of company car use, says FleetCheck
Journey approval could be the future of fleet, with fleet drivers required to get permission before going on trips, FleetCheck has suggested.
The impact of coronavirus on our society has created a transitional shift in attitudes towards physical meetings. Peter Golding, managing director at FleetCheck, says that the spread of video conferencing during the pandemic could change business travel even after the virus’ threat has disappeared.
“There’s little doubt that the rise of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, GoTo Meeting and others have had a real impact on perception of how business meetings are conducted. Many of us – me included – have learned that they are a pretty efficient way to hold conversations.
“However, there is also a counterpoint argument that some meetings do require a human presence, whether to demonstrate a product or service, or simply to establish and maintain a rapport with an important contact.
“How much video-conferencing can or should replace car journeys will vary widely from organisation to organisation and from job role to job role, but there is little doubt that we have seen a cultural change during lockdown.”
In response to this notion and as a means of assessing which trips require car journeys or which can be undertaken using technology such as online conferencing software, Golding suggests that some form of journey approval system may be the answer, “Some form of journey approval system – either informal or driven by technology such as an app – is one possible answer to this question.”
“It could be that you have account managers who see major clients every month. Could you write something into your fleet policy that recommends two out of three of those meetings use video conferencing? Those are the kinds of policies that would need deciding.
“What we are suggesting is, fundamentally, thinking about using company cars in a more strategic manner. We believe they will still be very necessary but, if you could substantially reduce the number of miles covered each year, it represents a win in all respects including costs, travel time and environmental impact.”
Peter pointed out that something similar had established a precedent across many fleets during the 2008 economic crash.
“Quite a few businesses essentially stopped drivers using their car for journeys in order to eliminate fuel expenditure as much as possible. If you needed to make a trip, it had to be approved. The difference then, of course, was that video conferencing technology was quite limited. Now, there are a wider range of options.”
Golding’s suggestions come at the same time as a new survey by The Business Clean Air Taskforce (BCAT), uncovered that working remotely could help avoid one in five car journeys for business use and that 87% of those able to work from home wish to continue doing so to some degree. The benefits cited other than less road traffic is better well-being as a result of not having to commute.
Further, the charity, Global Action Plan, is urging the continuation of remote working as an option post lockdown to prevent a second spike of coronavirus, keep the streets free for key workers and air pollution down.
Chris Large, partner at Global Action Plan, said: “If employers support greater remote working, as many as one in five car journeys driven for business purposes could be eliminated, equating to 11 billion miles saved per year. We should take this opportunity to minimise pollution and traffic, free employees from unnecessary travel and fortify business against future disruptions. We don’t need to work from home every day to make a significant reduction to congestion on the roads which will help people breath cleaner air.”