For many organizations and industries, some degree of corporate travel is unavoidable. The global pandemic showed us that many of our meetings could be held online, but this won’t always be the case. Many organizations are aware of the environmental impact of business travel, which means finding greener ways to travel to and from corporate meetings.
Below, we’ll take a look at 10 ways you can reduce your carbon footprint when you’re traveling to your next corporate meeting.
1. Prioritize public transportation
If your meeting is taking place in a large city or town, you will most likely have plenty of public transport options. Instead of driving, look into taking a train or bus to reduce the environmental impact of your journey. You could even think outside the box – perhaps a boat is the most efficient way to travel!
2. Consider carpooling
Of course, your next corporate meeting may not have good public transport connections, meaning you will need to drive. If this is the case, look into carpooling with colleagues traveling from the same place. You can reduce the cost to the business with only one set of gas and parking expenses, and you can reduce the environmental impact by taking fewer vehicles.
3. Hire an electric or hybrid vehicle service
Opt for an electric or hybrid vehicle service if you need to rent a car for business travel. Also, choose the smallest, most efficient car possible for your needs – there is no need to select a giant 4×4 for a single person driving between cities when a smaller vehicle will suffice. Alternatively, if your organization has its own fleet of cars, consider upgrading them to electric or hybrid models (with plenty of guidance around available charging points).
4. Ask your senior team for recommendations
When PwC started requiring manager approval for business travel, it helped them challenge the assumption that flying was always the best way to travel, which reduced non-client-related air travel by 90%. Speak to people in the business who have previously traveled to your destination – perhaps they know a more efficient way to travel, or they can recommend an easy public transport route.
5. One rule for everyone
If you’re trying to roll out a more sustainable approach to travel, make sure the senior leaders in your organization are leading by example. If leaders take public transport and participate in ride-sharing, it will normalize it for the rest of the organization. If your entry-level employees are taking a six-hour bus while the C-suite takes a private jet, resentment will quickly build, so keep it fair for everyone.
6. Travel economy
Where possible, encourage employees to travel economy – especially for shorter flights. Business class seats are responsible for around twice the carbon emissions as economy seats on a flight, as they take up more space on the aircraft. Again, ensure this applies across the organization – don’t expect mid-level employees to sit in coach if your senior leaders enjoy the comfort of business class.
7. Make time for “slow travel.”
Employees don’t want to waste their precious personal time traveling to corporate meetings, so ensure that you, as an employer, are allocating sufficient time for them to choose more sustainable travel methods. For instance, allocating half a day before and after a meeting to allow them to take the train rather than fly will significantly reduce the emissions from their journey without eating into their own time.
8. Travel to the majority
If you have a team of three meeting a team of eight, consider getting the team of three to travel to the larger group. This will remove the travel time and emissions for five people each way, making it much more efficient and environmentally friendly. It’s also a good strategy for beating rising corporate travel costs.
9. Vet your venues
Traveling sustainably to a corporate meeting should also result in a sustainable meeting venue. Ensure that any meeting venue you choose wears its green credentials loud and proud, whether that’s a comprehensive recycling program, green energy, locally sourced catering, water-saving measures, or anything else they do to reduce the venue’s environmental impact.
10. Switch to hybrid or virtual meetings
The best way to drastically reduce your carbon footprint from corporate travel is to switch from in-person meetings to hybrid meetings or virtual meetings. You could consider rotating the location of in-person events to ensure nobody feels like they are missing out, so everyone gets the benefit of face-to-face time while also enjoying the convenience of meeting virtually. For instance, perhaps instead of flying a global team into a single location, you can ask those within the same geographical area to meet and those who are a large distance away to dial in. This reduces unnecessary air travel, ensuring your meetings are more sustainable.