Smarter working solution to traffic and pollution

"Changing our working practices, and so our travel patterns, is one of the solutions to road congestion and public transport overcrowding, and probably the only one that is currently achievable."

The penultimate day of Work Wise Week focused upon the transport aspects of new smarter working practices. Changing working patterns and adopting smarter working, such as flexible working (including condensed hours and nine-day fortnights), remote and mobile working, and working from home, will result in the reduction in the overall need to travel, and flexibility in the time when people have to travel.

Phil Flaxton, chief executive of Work Wise UK, the not-for-profit organisation behind Work Wise Week, said: "A key benefit of the introduction of new smarter working practices is that it leads to a decline in the overall amount of travel. The requirement to travel to and from work at the same time to the same place every weekday, and also to travel many miles for meetings, is largely unnecessary considering the technology available, and the nature of the global market, today.

"Changing our working practices, and so our travel patterns, is one of the solutions to road congestion and public transport overcrowding, and probably the only one that is currently achievable."

Traffic congestion is an increasing issue for the UK economy. The RAC Foundation, a supporting partner of Work Wise UK, calculate that 25 million people in the UK commute to and from a fixed place of work, of which 18 million people go by car and seven million by other means. The recent Eddington Report predicted that if recent trends continue, by 2025, congestion will waste around £22 billion worth of time in England alone.

Public transport, despite significant increases in fares across the board, has continued to see massive growth – last year alone, passenger numbers increased by 10 per cent. In London, the population is expected to grow by a further 800,000 in the next 15 years, placing even greater pressure on the existing transport infrastructure.

Travel is a major source of emissions and pollution. The Stern Report, published in December last year, predicted environmental disaster for the planet unless something is done in the near future to curb the problem. His report anticipated that 200 million people will become refugees and a global recession worse than that in the 1920s and 1930s, will result if current CO2 pollution levels are unchecked.

Phil Flaxton added: "The added benefit of reducing travel through changing working practices is the huge impact on the levels of CO2 emissions from transport sources."