“Instead of getting up at 4am to catch a 7:30 flight somewhere, my colleagues and I are happy to travel by train overnight. You arrive fresh and rested”. “My preference is always the train over a plane because I feel like I’m really in the country and experiencing it.”“I’d love to travel by road or train any day rather than fly and emit more carbon.”
Who’d refuse a fresh start, countryside views and low carbon travel? Your author definitely wouldn’t.
This is how employees felt when interviewed by two artists, Lola Perrin and Rob La Frenais, on trains across Europe. On a field trip that started in London, passing by Brussels, and heading to the World Economic Forum in Davos, travelers were enthusiastic about rail travel for business purposes.
To see if you resonate with the employees’ experiences recorded, check out the trailer video
But do employees always have the option to hop on a train rather than a plane to get to a meeting? It’s not that simple. Employees have to reckon with cost and time. And crucially, it hasn’t always been their choice to make. But when employees are asked for their opinion, the consensus seems clear.
A majority of employees surveyed want their company to set targets to reduce flying. At the same time, they are ready to take steps to reduce the impacts of their travel. This includes using fewer business flights for internal meetings, planning more local versus global meetings or using a more environmentally friendly mode of transport. Finally, a strong majority of business travellers believe they themselves play an important role in changing their company’s travel policy.
What does this mean? Employees are willing to change their habits to lessen the carbon footprint of their travel. Simultaneously, they expect leadership teams to set targets at company-level to reduce employee flying.
So is there a mismatch between employee expectations and current practice? The Travel Smart Ranking shows that too few businesses set targets to reduce corporate flying emissions. However, the results of our survey show that employees expect more from their leadership.
It seems like a simple equation to resolve: by setting a target to reduce your business travel emissions, and encouraging rail travel for regional journeys, your employees will thank you in the long term, you will meet the expectations of your investors whilst also fulfilling your share of responsibility for the planet.
And as an employee, there are different steps you can take to drive change within your organisation. For every trip you take, assess the need and value of it. Can you achieve your objectives through a virtual meeting or another alternative? You can also advocate for a sustainable travel policy within your company, by encouraging decision-makers and peers to support reduced air travel and shift to greener transport modes.