A growing number of employers are offering mobility benefits as part of an emerging trend to incentivize or otherwise support employees to explore energy-efficient commuting options. Employee mobility benefit packages may include a variety of options, such as free or subsidized transit passes, membership to micromobility systems, ridesharing coordination, flexible schedules, work from home options, parking payout for those who forego employer parking, on-demand microtransit vehicles, and even chauffeured, Wi-Fi-enabled luxury shuttles.
Employees may benefit from such programs through decreased commuting costs, reduced need for vehicle ownership, and the ability to reclaim time that would otherwise have been spent piloting a vehicle. Employers may benefit from being in a stronger position to recruit and retain labor talent, reduce investments for private car parking, and project an image of energy consciousness. Employee passes and transit subsidies are effective incentives for corporate decision makers to build mass transit ridership, conserve fuel, and reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT). Employer compensation for transit may have tax benefits. Learn more about such commuting tax benefits from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
In addition to saving fuel and money, people who commute via alternative transportation may also enjoy incentives from their employers. Two examples are:
- Commuter Rewards – a program from the Clean Air Campaign at Georgia College rewards registered commuters with cash, gift cards, and other prizes.
- Commuter Gamification – a way to incentivize users by appealing to their competitive nature through gamification. The RideAmigos website offers many tips for how to create an alternative commuting game.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the implementation of workplace systems and tools to allow employees to work from home or other remote coworking locations. This new accessibility of telework has changed the landscape of workforce mobility and will continue to impact how employees travel in the foreseeable future.
Telework is a work arrangement where employees work from home (telecommute) or attend conferences and meetings from their computer or by phone (teleconference). This arrangement is often supported by digital infrastructure including internet access and cloud-based software that allow remote file-sharing and conference calls. COVID-19 has accelerated and increased employer acceptance of remote work, and while some companies may opt to go back to the office either part or full-time, others are embracing long-term shifts toward remote work.
Offering telework opportunities either all of part of the time can help companies reduce the transportation costs of their employees and the energy use associated with their commutes and work-related travel. Telework also creates new flexibility for employees and may be seen as a perk that helps to recruit and retain competitive employees.
These resources can help corporate decision makers develop and support telework opportunities for employees to conserve fuel.
- Way to Go – a program from the Denver Regional Council of Governments that offers telework toolkits and hands-on assistance to help employers set up telework programs
- WFH: The Complete List of Remote Work Resources – a list of resources for time tracking, remote project management, and file sharing along with insights and best practices around telework
- Telework.gov – telework information for federal employees and agencies.
Alternative Work Schedules
Another option for employers to reduce the driving trips their employees take is to offer compressed work schedules, where employees work the same number of hours in fewer days. For example, an employee could work 10 hours per day for 4 days each week instead of 8 hours per day for 5 days. By reducing the weekly number of trips to the office, this alternative work schedule could reduce fuel use and emissions by one-fifth or 20%.
- Best Workplaces for Commuters promotes environmentally friendly commuting by encouraging multi-modal transportation and alternatives to reduce stress and traffic congestion.
- Transportation Demand Management Encyclopedia, by the Victoria Transport Policy Institute (British Columbia, Canada) features successful transportation demand management programs, strategies, and best practices to help reduce travel impacts.