Olympic travel plans help O2 to cut CO2

4th September 2012


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Mobile communications company O2 has saved 30 tonnes of carbon in one month through flexible working plans implemented to combat potential disruption to travel in the capital due to London 2012

The UK arm of Spanish telecommunications firm Telefonica has revealed that it has been able to save 100,000 miles and 6,000 hours of commuter travel since the opening of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games by shutting down its head office for one day a week and encouraging greater flexible working.

O2 was one of a number of firms that adopted a sustainable travel charter for London 2012 developed by environment charity Global Action Plan. The charter aimed to minimise the impact of potential travel disruption on businesses and demonstrate the benefits of a more sustainable approach to travel.

Signatories agreed to shut their offices for one day a week; introduce flexible working and incentives for staff to cut their travel; set company-wide targets to reduce travel; and encourage virtual meetings rather than face-to-face contact with clients and suppliers.

According to O2, the approach has not only helped to cut carbon, but has provided business benefits with 3,000 staff hours that would have been spent travelling instead being dedicated to work, and 92% of employees who worked from home agreeing that they were just as productive as they would have been at work, if not more so.

“Changing our work and travel patterns did much more than ensure we were not adversely affected by the games,” confirmed Bill Eyres, O2’s head of sustainability. “We reduced the amount of miles and time our employees spent commuting, increased employee productivity and reduced the impact our business has on the environment.

“The benefits have convinced us to implement these changes longer term so we can work smarter, travel less and live better.”

Global Action Plan’s chief executive, Trewin Restorick, urged firms to use their Olympics plans as the basis for their future approach to business travel.

“The Olympics has shown UK companies that there are far better ways of doing business. But, while athletes can now take a well-deserved rest, businesses must ensure old work and travel habits do not return,” he said. “Let’s not lose this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to revolutionise our work and travel patterns.”

Research from Global Action Plan published ahead of the Olympics revealed that of 150 firms working with the charity less than one-quarter had used incentives to encourage staff to travel more sustainably and only 6% were working with their clients to reduce business-related travel.

The results also revealed that flexible working was the most popular sustainable travel initiative, with 65% of companies confirming that they were considering it.

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