Transport makes up nearly half of New Zealand's energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, so enabling your staff to reduce their car use and enjoy cheaper, low-stress commutes (including working from home more often) is an important part of your business's climate action.

New Zealanders spend a collective 146 million hours getting to work every year — most of that in cars, alone. In fact, pre-Covid 90% of people driving to work would be by themselves in their cars, equating to 5.5 million empty seats travelling every day.

Check out the key actions you can take to encourage low carbon commutes at your business.

Don't assume everyone wants a carpark

EECA research shows that 72% of businesses provide carparking compared to 17% providing showers and/or lockers, and just 22% providing bike parking1.

While it may feel like too high a hurdle, if you're located near good public transport options, you may be surprised by how happy staff would be to give up sitting in traffic every day, particularly if their transport was subsidised.

1Source: EECA Business Monitor, Q1-2, 2021

Some ways to encourage climate-friendly commutes

  • Subsidise public transport — instead of providing a carpark or company car, provide the same amount of remuneration value in your employee's package, but encourage a more environmentally-friendly behaviour.
  • Encourage active commuting — people are far more likely to bike or walk if they have access to shower and storage facilities at work, and a secure place to lock up their bike.

  • Carpooling — Four co-workers in one car, rather than each driving their own? That's quartered their emissions.

Things to consider about active commuting

People are increasingly getting around on two wheels — around 75,000 e-bikes were imported to New Zealand in 2021, and our research shows 55% of people would like to walk or bike more2.

Here are a few ways to support your staff to make the switch.

2Source: EECA Consumer Monitor, July-Sep 2021

  • Secure storage — a lack of secure bike storage is one of the biggest barriers to cycle commuting, alongside not having shower/locker facilities at work. If you can't provide those yourself, try talking to other local businesses about pooling your resources.
  • Corporate dresscodes — another barrier to cycling is having to pack a change of clothes which then gets wrinkled before wear. Is there an opportunity to lessen the formality of your company's daywear?
  • Bike costs — are their corporate schemes that your business can join to reduce the cost of e-bikes or cycles for your employees? Can you subsidise safety equipment as part of your employee benefits?
  • Motivating staff — identify champions at work who can help and encourage other staff to try car-free commuting. Think about any other incentives you could provide, or tap into people's competitive spirit with a cycling (or walking) challenge — such as the annual Aotearoa Bike Challenge.(external link)

Encourage working from home

Remote work can reduce commercial real estate and operational costs, lower electricity usage, and cause less wastage. Some may choose to downsize their commercial property and require less space for parking in urban centres.

It's a good idea to set up your work from home (WFH) policy as a test and learn so you can make adjustments along the way.

Things to consider before you create a WFH policy

Before you create a working from home policy, consider these things.

  • How many people in your business are able to work from home? For example, it might not be practical for an office manager to work from home, but an IT specialist might be fine.
  • Do you have the tech set up for people to work from home, like two-factor authentication or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for remote access?
  • You may need to think about equipment requirements, or health and safety. You could set up cheat sheets that share tips on a healthy, ergonomic workstation.
  • Make sure there are easy ways for people to communicate remotely, like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, or email.
  • Are there days where it would be good for everyone to be in the office?
  • Consider how you'll know it's working, i.e. you could set up a survey to get feedback, or establish a way to track work progress.

How to get started

Engage your staff from the beginning of the process by finding out how they currently travel to work. This will let you work up alternative solutions and appropriate incentives that resonate with staff, while being commercially viable for you.

Questions to ask your staff

  • What mode of transport do they usually use to commute?
  • Where do they commute from?
  • How far is their commute and how long does it typically take?
  • What public transport hubs are situated around them?
  • If they currently drive, have they considered using other modes and which ones?
  • How much does it cost them to commute over a month?
  • What might help them make the switch? E.g.
    • Secure bike parking
    • Locker and shower facilities
    • Subsidised public transport or e-bike purchasing
    • A work-based carpooling system
    • Working from home at least once a week