Fuming over unnecessary business travel

Jul 06 2007 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Employers have yet to catch up with the desire of their staff to reduce their carbon footprint by cutting back on business travel, with many still insisting they jump on a plane or drive to meetings at the drop of a hat.

A study by videoconferencing firm Interwise has found that the failure of UK companies to reduce business travel is not the fault of employees, far from it.

In fact, though employees say they would readily adopt greener remote working practices, they are being stopped from doing so by the attitude of their employers.

More than three quarters of the workers polled by Interwise said they travelled to up to three meetings per week, with more than half complaining that their company had not done anything to try to cut back on travel for meetings.

Employees also felt that at least half of the meetings they trailed along to could have been held virtually.

"Ownership of green initiatives within CSR and similar programmes is proving a key differentiator and driver amongst enterprises looking to unlock the benefits of remote working," said Tony Gasson, vice-president international at Interwise.

"Executive committees are needed to provide strategic direction and drive efficiencies through organisation-wide programmes such as travel reduction," he added.

Virtual meeting technologies enabling remote working needed to move from being a "nice to have" corporate periphery to something much more business critical, he argued.

While there would always be a need for business travel, notably for relationship building, dealing with conflict or protracted negotiations, executives and employees needed to learn when it was appropriate to travel and when a greener alternative was possible, he said.