How to establish sustainable travel and expense policy

How to establish sustainable travel and expense policy

Today, if we hear terms like “sustainability” and “innovation” in every media, not all of us are aware of what sustainable development really means.

In this article, we are clarifying these terms and explaining significant reasons for companies to build sustainability into their DNA. But how does an organization move beyond good intentions and carbon offsets and encourage impactful, greener choices? Let's find out in our article how companies can make sustainable changes when it comes to deciding how employees get to their destinations and where they stay !

Why is it time for companies to think about sustainability?

Regarding latest studies across all industries, 62% of executives consider a sustainability strategy necessary to be competitive today, and another 22% think it will be in the future. Why so? Simply put, sustainability is a business approach to creating long-term value by taking into consideration how a given organization operates in the ecological, social and economic environment. Sustainability is built on the assumption that developing such strategies foster company longevity.

As the expectations on corporate responsibility increase, and as transparency becomes more prevalent, companies are recognizing the need to act on sustainability. Professional communications and good intentions are no longer enough.

Does your travel and expense policy contain CSR aspects?

Travel is a core part of doing business and face-to-face meetings are often the best way to build relationships with clients and business partners.

However, ever increasing travel brings with it significant costs to businesses and to wider society. For example, it contributes to congestion on the transport network, unproductive time spent traveling, accidents, fatigue and stress. Without forgetting the environmental impacts such as greenhouse gas emissions and poor air quality. Following on from this issue, companies today are implementing a CSR part to their travel and expense policy. 

What changes can companies make to be more sustainable?

Making your company more environmentally-friendly is good for business, improves brand reputation, and brings teams closer together as they work toward a greater good. Here are three steps to implement in your travel and expense policy to be more sustainable: 

Air Travel

As train travel is less carbon intensive than travelling by plane many organisations now implement a ban on all short-haul flights where an equivalent journey by train of less than six hours is available. Unless a business specific reason deems air travel essential, trains often provide a greater opportunity to work compared to the combined airport and flight experience which can equal or exceed the train journey.

Car use optimisation

If you have many employees making similar journeys for business purposes, for example, travel to training venues or to other company locations, then car sharing is an ideal option to promote. The practice of car sharing can be adopted by employees regardless of whether they are travelling in their own or a pool or hire car, but you must ensure the rules of grey fleet use as referred to earlier are adhered to.

Green lodging

Did you know that hotels, on average, account for 45 kilogrammes of carbon emissions per room night? Metrics like this are vital for companies to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint! That’s why the hospitality industry has been a significant impetus in recent years toward incorporating green practices. Companies started to list only eco-friendly and sustainable hotels for business trips.

Is it time for companies to wrap up the carbon footprint?

As already mentioned, climate change is driven by increases in man-made CO2 emissions.  And regulators and markets are watching to ensure companies are making progress on ever-increasing and ever-more-critical goals to reduce emissions.

To reduce the impact of climate change in the European Union, the Green New Deal wants to make emissions in Europe net zero by 2050 and move to a fully digital Europe. What does this mean for businesses? The transition to clean energy is estimated to create 18 million jobs by 2030. Companies receive support to become leaders in the production of clean technologies and products and thereby create new jobs. With the help of governments, businesses can contribute to innovation, transform our production and consumption patterns and introduce healthier living conditions and move to a new, sustainable level that respects the boundaries of our planet.

How can expense management tools help you with building sustainable business?

A digital expense management solution introduces employees to the company's travel and expense policy and integrates it with the requisitioning process. This enables employees to make fully informed decisions before making the travel they are about to claim. Thanks to policy reminders and warning flags, employees always make the right choice.

By collecting travel and expense data in one place, it is much easier to drill down into individual expense areas and habitual application behaviors.  Travel and expense reporting not only provides a high level of visibility but also enables informed decision-making, helping businesses to identify areas for cost-cutting, sustainability savings and policy changes.

In addition, it is important to note that going digital alternatives and going paperless can have a truly positive impact on the environment, as well as helping companies streamline processes and improve employee productivity. Not only will it eliminate the need for organizations to print and store full boxes of paper, but it will also save money and encourage employees to be more considerate and recycle the paper receipts they use.

Maria Khizhniakova