Smart to work
Tuesday morning 07h30: a large proportion of our 30,000 employees leave home for work. They go by car, bike, bus, train, motorbike, you name it. On an average weekday, they account for about a million kilometres between them. A huge figure, right? Happily, more than 1 in 4 employees leave the car at home. They come by bike, take public transport or carpool. Each year, they avoid doing some 43 million kilometres. And that’s what Antoon Vander Putten wants to encourage. He’s responsible for (amongst other things) employee mobility and he wants to make it as sustainable as possible.
Reduce, shift and change
The 'reduce, shift, change' triangle is a good illustration of how we want to approach our employees’ mobility", explains Antoon. "For example, working closer to home in a regional office can reduce the number of kilometres driven each day. You can also shift them from the car to more sustainable alternatives such as a bike, public transport or carpooling. Or you can clean kilometres you do drive by car: a car on electricity, CNG or hydrogen travels the same number of kilometres, but with no or lower emissions."
According to the principle of the triple win, with each measure, we try to achieve a benefit for society, the company and the employee. Antoon: "If people don't see a personal advantage in going to work by bike, they probably won’t do so." That’s why we offer a lot of specific benefits to get our employees to come to work in a (more) sustainable way.
In 2019, 4,741 employees came to work by bike each day. “We’re the only company I know which has given its employees bikes for the past ten years. That’s part of our Bike2Work programme,” says Antoon. By doing so we encourage cycling in different ways:
- Since 2007, employees have been given a company bike, in addition to their cycling allowance. In the accompanying bicycle kit, there’s a raincoat, helmet, fluorescent tabard and a repair kit.
- You also get a cycling allowance even if you prefer to use your own bike. It’s simply logical.
- Commuters can ask for a commuter bike or a folding bike to get from the station to work. In Halle, bikes are parked in a covered and secure bicycle storage space. Bikes are also repaired there free of charge.
- Since 2011, employees who have a trip of more than 7 kilometres can opt for an electric bike.
- Do you live too far to cycle and is public transport not a solution? Then you can buy a classic or electric scooter at a reduced price. You will also be entitled to a travel expenses allowance.
Commuters can go to work for free by bus and train. Public transport has many advantages: you don't get stuck in traffic, you can read and surf on your tablet, you create less CO2 emissions, ... In 2019, 1,647 employees used public transport to commute.
Coming to work with colleagues is friendlier and cheaper. And that’s not the only reason why 1,900 of our employees carpool. Thanks to our carpool database, it’s easy to find someone who takes the same route as you. And at our Wilgenveld and Hellebroek offices in Halle, there are special parking spaces reserved for carpoolers close to the entrance.
Anyone who sees carpooling on a larger scale can take the office bus from Ghent to Halle. Each day, 32 employees come to work in this mobile shared office, with everything they need on it. The hours they work on the bus count as working hours so their working day begins immediately.
Still prefer the car?
Even though not everyone realises that they can come to work using sustainable transport, we’ll continue to tell our employees about the options. How exactly?
- We have regular campaigns about carpooling, cycling, etc.
- A benefit calculator will quickly show you how much you can save as a solo driver if you switch to cycling, public transport or carpooling, aside from the tax benefit.
- An app makes it easy to order a bike for a one-off journey or daily use.
Some of our employees have a company car. Nearly half of those cars run on CNG (compressed natural gas) which is far cleaner than diesel or petrol. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that we don’t continue to encourage them to come to work by bike or train. It’s perfectly possible to combine a company car with a free company bike or a public transport season ticket. And anyone who chooses not to have a car gets a monthly salary supplement.
With this initiative, we contribute to the following Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.