Carpooling: The New Work-Environment Initiative
Ridesharing is a concept that has been gaining traction in recent years. With advancements in technology allowing us to book rides through Apps, getting around has never been more convenient. Forward-thinking companies are now getting on board too, by implementing corporate ridesharing programs for employees, with incentives such as guaranteed parking spots and petrol vouchers.
The benefits of ridesharing seem obvious at first—convenience, reduced traffic congestion, reduced emissions, and reduced costs.
But for companies who are offering ride-sharing programs to employees, there is a whole set of benefits to workplace culture as well. You see, carpooling is replacing the stale water cooler or lunch table conversation.
Casual conversation is essential in the workplace, so much so that studies have revealed not having them in the workplace leads to lower productivity and ability to carry out our work. Informal chats, or 'water cooler conversations', are integral to the workplace, but today’s digital age means we spend most of the workday glued to our screens and not engaging in face-to-face conversations.
Because of today’s email culture and rise of flexible working policies, employees are more likely to ask a colleague a question via email than walk over to them.
We’ve lost the value of casual chats around the water cooler or lunch table and replaced it with short, professional and distant digital correspondence—which in turn could lead to disengaged employees, isolation and reduced collaboration. The implementation of a ridesharing program can replace the notion of the water cooler conversation and transform it into more meaningful discourse.
Apps can now match employees based on their route to work, connecting riders and drivers who may not have much connection in the office. This makes them step outside of their comfort zone and build meaningful connections with people they may not have dealt with in the past. This helps transform the workplace culture into one that actively encourages open communication, collaboration and team building.
Additionally, by sharing a journey into work with a colleague, it can help employees to get a jump start on their day. This is because we tend to engage in conversations with people on topics we know we have in common, and for employees that naturally means discussing work. Discussing current or future projects encourages increased productivity, collaboration and establishes natural communication for teamwork activities in the future.
Having these discussions during the shared commute to work means, even before arriving at the office, employees are already mentally prepared for the day’s work.
Taking the stress out of the daily commute
There’s nothing worse than being stuck in traffic day in, day out. The average commute time in Australian cities such as Sydney is 71 minutes a day. That’s six hours over the work week —essentially a whole work day spent in the car. And it’s only getting worse, with the latest TomTom Traffic Index Report finding travel times in Australia’s ten busiest cities have increased 28% in a year.
Spending time stuck in traffic increases employees stress levels, according to research from the UK. The survey found 55% of respondents found themselves more stressed due to journey delays and congestion. And, it’s not the only report to find a correlation between congestion and stress, with a number of US studies linking traffic with increased stress and aggression.
However, there are times where we willingly place ourselves in a car for hours on end, but it’s made bearable, even enjoyable, by having somebody in there with us.
Corporate ridesharing takes this notion of a road trip and places it in a workplace setting. As such, sharing a ride to work with someone can take the stress out of being in peak hour traffic, and bring some enjoyment to an otherwise tedious activity.
By showing up to work less stressed, and with a guaranteed parking spot, employees are likely to feel more satisfied in the office and be more productive with work.
Being socially responsible is good for retention
One of the biggest impacts carpooling has is to the reduction of carbon emissions as a result of fewer cars on the road. For a single person to carpool only two times a week, they would be reducing their carbon footprint by 2.6 tonnes a year.
And not only will the introduction of a ridesharing program reduce carbon footprint, but the reduction of cars on the road will also have a greater impact on motorists in general. Even if we see a 6% reduction of cars on the road, it would be the same amount as during school holidays—and we all know how enjoyable it is to drive during that time!
This is great news for the business, particularly in regards to hitting its sustainability targets. However, it’s also great news for staff attraction and retention. Research has shown job seekers want to work for responsible businesses, particularly amongst the younger generations.
If employees feel they are a part of a socially responsible workplace, they experience a greater sense of satisfaction with their job. They feel as though they are doing their part in making the world a greener place, and providing employees with that option will reflect positively and both the business and the people within it.
There is much more to a corporate ridesharing program than reducing congestion, emissions and the number of vehicles parking at the office.
It also creates a desirable work culture, helping to increase productivity, collaboration and positive sentiment towards the business.
A corporate ridesharing program gives employees the chance to engage with colleagues they may not have spoken to before in a collaborative and productive manner, resulting in happier, more engaged workers.