Why sharing is caring

If you want to reduce your company’s carbon footprint an obvious place to look  is business travel. But that’s not just cutting back on international flights. Significant savings can be made much closer to home by reducing the number of solo miles that are driven to, from and on behalf of your business. And car-sharing and carpooling may be part of the answer.


A break with tradition

Employees on business trips will usually hire cars from traditional rental agencies, most of which are located close to major transport hubs such as airports and larger train stations. The cars are typically rented by individuals and by the day – so in many cases one car will be used by one person to attend one meeting.

Car-sharing companies are shaking up the traditional model by giving people access to vehicles ‘on demand’ in their immediate vicinity, with rentable cars strategically located across towns and cities. It’s a relatively new business model and has a long way to go in terms of national/international coverage. But as it gains in popularity it should (ultimately) be possible to pick up a hire car in minutes for even the shortest trips from A to B. The advantage of this is that one car could be used by several people over the course of the day, thereby reducing the total number of cars on
the road, taking up parking spaces and contributing to air pollution.

In some large cities, including London and Paris, many residents are already choosing not to own their own cars. Instead they are renting them when they need to, using car-sharing services along with peer-to-peer sites that allow car owners to rent their own cars out when they are not being used. As this becomes more commonplace we can see it becoming more popular for businesses, too. Companies that want to reduce the carbon-footprint associated with their employees’ business travel could by-pass traditional car rental companies in favour of car-sharing services. Their employees could have access to the vehicles they need (including vans and luxury cars) when and where they need them for an all-inclusive price. And that could be easier, cheaper and more eco-efficient than either running their own fleets or using traditional rental agencies.

Car-sharing companies are firmly established in the USA and parts of Europe and are gaining a foothold in the UK. Zipcar is currently the UK’s largest car-sharing network, with 1,800+ vehicles available across London, Bristol, Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh and Glasgow, while competitors including Turo, Drivy and HiyaCar
are offering similar services.

Car-sharing – benefits for employees:

  • collect cars from convenient nearby locations
  • pick up and return cars when they choose, rather than during rental agency hours
  • rent cars for the shortest trips and pay by the minute!

Car-sharing – benefits for business:

  • transparent all-inclusive pricing
  • only pay for the car miles your people are using
  • reduction in carbon emissions associated with your business travel


Why everyone wins

Most of us have taken part in informal carpooling arrangements, from sharing the school run with other parents to being the designated driver on a group night out. If the same concept can be scaled up to ‘corporate’ levels it could deliver significant benefits for everyone involved.

There are now several providers offering journey-matching services, putting drivers in touch with people along their route who want a lift to the same destination. These include BlaBlaCar, Faxi, Waze, Bynd and europe-carpooling.uk. Some allow you to set up a corporate carpool, matching employees with others who need to get to the same place. This could cover everything from the daily commute to sharing cars to get to a meeting or event. If your company is small, you could consider working with other local businesses to offer point-to-point journey planning opportunities for people who live and work in the same general area.

Carpooling – benefits for employees:

  • removes the time spent on (and waiting for) public transport, which is not a point-to-point service
  • reduces the stress involved in travelling alone, creating opportunities for networking and socialising
  • reduces travel costs as passengers pay less than bus/train fares while giving drivers a contribution towards the cost of fuel/car ownership
  • attracts extra perks (potentially) such as dedicated parking spots or cheaper parking rates for car sharers
  • enables drivers and passengers to make arrangements quickly and easily through online/mobile apps

Carpooling – benefits for business:

  • reduced carbon footprint (congestion, pollution) associated with your company’s business travel
  • reduced parking costs (where these are paid or subsidised)
  • improved employee relationships
  • demonstrates the kind of corporate responsibility that prospective employees are likely to value.