Fleet News

***SPECIAL REPORT*** Fuel crisis to prompt explosion in home-working?

COMMUTERS are being urged to 'dump the pump and get a modem' as world fuel prices reach a 10-year high and the cost of congestion to the economy soars to £1.9 billion by 2010. After Britain's fuel crisis stranded commuters at home, the RAC Foundation said using a modem would enable many motorists to continue to work and would help reduce traffic growth by up to 45% long term.

And one of Britain's best known companies Whitbread will make 500 office-based staff field-based by December 1 in an initiative which will herald a major shake-up in the way the business functions as well as the operational cost of the 1,700-strong company car fleet, which could result in fleet replacement cycles being extended.

Award-winning Central services manager Nigel Trotman, said: 'Staff will be equipped with the latest technology. They will have a company car but will not have a fixed desk. The move will have a big impact on the fleet operation and will reduce vehicle mileages because people will work from home and will be based in the areas they serve. Time spent travelling is dead time.

The impact of pumps running dry is expected to lead to businesses across Britain analysing their fleet operating costs to see if non-essential journeys can be axed and greater use made of new technology, car sharing and home working initiatives.

An RAC conference in London on Thursday revealed:

  • Teleworking could cut commuter traffic by up to 10%.

  • Video and audio conferencing could cut business travel by up to 3%.

  • Use of information technology could cut lorry journeys by up to 16%.

  • Teleshopping could reduce car trips to the shops by up to 5%.

And the report claims that within a decade the equivalent figures could be a 15% reduction in commuter traffic, a 5% reduction in business travel and an 18% reduction in HGV journeys. If new technology is adopted by employees in a bid to beat traffic congestion, it is claimed it could save the economy £1.3 billion by 2005 and up to £1.9 billion by 2010.

BT is at the forefront of home working and a survey estimates that the average annual miles saved in travel from the home to office mostly by car is £3,149. The telecommunications company also estimates that it has saved 150 billion business miles in a year by conferencing.

The report also reveals that:

  • Quality of life and reduced commuting time for workers, and employee flexibility and office space for employees are the main reasons for teleworking.

  • Teleworkers are more likely to have higher incomes and live further from their place of work.

  • Motorway service areas could become work stations to avoid city centre travel.

Daily commuting will become history for 25% of workers who will work from home by 2020 and for the remaining 75% of the UK's workforce, technology will transform travel to work, increasing speed, comfort and, in some cases, distance travelled according to another report commissioned by recruitment consultancy Kelly Services.

'Tomorrow's Work - A report into the the future of the way we work' written by Institute of Directors' chief economist Graeme Leach following research amongst 150 UK companies and 1,500 workers - the report says that by 2020 the office will be anywhere that people can be connected to a computer and new forms of remuneration packages will become increasingly the norm.

And the report claims that 10% or more of FTSE100 companies will not have a physical headquarters in the traditional sense. Changes

predicted include:

  • 25% of the workforce working from home by 2020 up from 2% today.

  • The remaining 75% will travel further to work with average commuting miles doubled to 55 miles a day.

  • A rail renaissance will see 350 mph trains whisking commuters between urban areas.

  • Fewer people driving to work with emptier roads meaning those who do will travel further.

Meanwhile, technology and the arrival of the 24-hour society will reduce the commuting grind and transform employees' journeys into productive working time, reducing the hours they need to spend in the office, according to the report.

Employees, claims the report, will travel to work by fuel cell car, along privatised roads employing automated highway systems which control a vehicle's speed and direction. Congestion will be consigned to history as automated systems control traffic flow and in a 24-hour society the working day will be extended at both ends reducing gridlock and leading to more shift working and staggered travel.

The mobile personal network will see cars furnished as offices, allowing drivers to access information from anywhere in the world as they drive and mobile phones will provide digital video contact with anyone worldwide enabling workers to have one-to-one meetings with colleagues on their way into the office.

The report is available from Clare Francis on 020-7247 4494 or e-mail: communications@ kellyservices.co.uk.

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