Driving is the world’s most popular way to get to work. There are many advantages to driving to work. Freedom and convenience being front and centre. This causes a multitude of parking problems for companies.
“The challenge for companies is that parking facilities are the most expensive of all mobility facilities and can be hard to find.”
When looking at the parking problems in your company there are two key questions.
- How can your organisation develop a culture of sustainability-focused driving?
- How does your organisation ensure it has enough space to fulfil the needs of its employees without breaking the bank?
Carpooling: There are lots of advantages associated with car sharing. For instance, the commuting costs are dramatically lowered and the stress associated with driving is lifted from a number of individuals within the carpool group. Carpooling also benefits the company as it reduces the pressures on your parking facilities, decreases peak time congestion around the office by reducing the number of single occupancy vehicles and also increases the sense of community in the workplace.
Carpooling can be particularly popular with employees who live quite far from the office and don’t have easy access to direct public transport routes. In most workplaces, carpooling is ad-hoc and informal, with staff identifying synergies between themselves. This can be effective in smaller organisations where everyone gets to know their co-workers on a personal level.
“However, for bigger organisations ̧ higher-level coordination and encouragement is often needed to scale carpooling into an activity which becomes widespread practice.”
Addressing the key barriers to carpooling is crucial. Carpooling schemes tend to fail for one of five reasons.
i) Lack of Information: The most basic reason for carpooling schemes failing is a lack of information. Employees often live in a bubble, therefore, a few reminder email will not always spark the connections necessary to form a carpooling system. To gather the attention of wider employee base, utilise internal launches and full company briefing sessions. Also be conscious that carpool outreach should occur every 3-6 months due to changes in public opinion or personal circumstances.
ii) Differing Work Schedules: Are employees willing to hang around for an extra hour to get or give a lift? It’s important to partner coworkers up according to their work schedules. Also, think about the impact on company culture, in most companies, if a meeting is running late you will see certain people head for the exit because they have to collect the kids or go to sports training. It needs to become acceptable for people to leave meetings that are running over because they are carpooling.
iii) Who Pays What: People can be odd when it comes to money. Some staff members will happily pay petrol and tolls without any contribution from passengers. Others will literally want to charge passengers not only for fuel but also for depreciation. Creating a transparent recommendation of how much passengers should contribute using a metric such as cost per kilometre can give much-needed clarity to many people.
iv) Whose Driving: Some people always want to drive, some people never want to drive, and some people want to share the load. It’s important to pay attention to pairing people up with complementary carpooling partners.
v) Lack of Chemistry: some people simply don’t get on, that’s life. Many people dread the prospect of an early morning journey with a person in the passenger seat who really grinds their gears. The staff needs to have a clear and confidential way to offload unwanted passengers. Otherwise, their frustrations can manifest and lead to serious resentment.
“Formalising carpooling in your workplace can have a massive impact.”
There are a couple of approaches to establishing employee carpooling.
i) Incentivise: why bother with carpooling? It can be perceived as more hassle than it’s worth, particularly for drivers who are going to be driving anyway. To make it worth their while your organisation needs to think about how to incentivise drivers to carpool. Guaranteed staff parking or monthly fuel contributions are two popular benefits which are sure to go down well with employees.
ii) Facilitate: Even an eager staff member looking to carpool may have trouble finding the right passengers. HR & Facilities must be the departments to join the dots.. Have department representatives survey staff, have sign up sheets in visible locations or literally go desk to desk.
Once you’ve found good matches, it might be a good idea to get the carpooling groups to sign a MOU, or memorandum of understanding, which outlines who is going to drive and when, estimated departure times, pick-up points and monetary reimbursements. This will ensure everyone is reading off the same page and there is no misunderstandings or resentment.
iii) Celebrate: Potentially the most important step is to celebrate your carpoolers. Send them gifts once a year, Circulate emails to hero them across the company, and call-out good behaviour at important meetings. Not only does this make carpoolers feel good, but it also reinforces the positioning of carpooling to other staff as something positive which they should to strive to participate in.
Car Sharing: Car sharing is a relatively new phenomenon which goes one step further than carpooling. When it comes to car-sharing staff don’t simply share car journeys, they actually share cars. This method is particularly beneficial for companies who have large amounts of staff using cars during the working day for visiting clients and customers.
“If you find that large amounts of your staff are driving to work simply because they will need to use their car during working hours, you should really think about introducing a car sharing scheme.”
Car-sharing schemes tend to take on two main forms:
Operator Schemes: There are a growing number of car-sharing operators such as Zipcar in the US, GoCar in Ireland, Ubeeqo in Spain. Predominantly, these operators work with local governments to increase urban mobility. However, they are increasingly partnering with companies who want to have either individual cars or small fleets located on their office grounds for staff to use. Traditionally, these operators operate on a pay as you use model with minimum thresholds.
The major benefits of public schemes are that the car-sharing operators take ultimate responsibility for the upkeep of the cars, removing cost burden and administrative pressures from your company. These schemes can be particularly beneficial for larger companies.
Private Schemes – The alternative to operator schemes is to leverage your staff’s existing network of cars. Though it may sound like a difficult feat, private schemes can maximize employee mobility, making the transition worth the effort. Private schemes are a perfect fit for organisations with staff members driving in and out to work every day, who don’t use their cars during the workday. Why can’t you incentivise them to make their cars available to their colleagues for usage during the workday? Key incentives can include fuels cards, insurance contributions, or even a car rental fee where the company gives employees a set fee for every time their car has been used.
If your organisation is currently spending a lot of money each year on company cars, car-sharing is an effective way to reduce annual costs.
” Could your company transition to a more fluid shared fleet, whereby your staff share cars both inside and outside of work hours? “
It might sound impractical but if you have a global, mobile workforce who spend a lot of time abroad for both work and pleasure it might be worth investigating further.
Electric Cars: Electric cars are really in vogue at the moment and rightly so. They are cheaper to run, better for the environment, and in many countries come with big tax incentives. Creating a culture of electric car usage in your workplace doesn’t have to be as daunting as some people make out.
i) Charging Points: The most important amenity an organisation must provide when it comes to electric cars are charging points. No electric car owner is going to run the gauntlet with when it comes to the battery life of their cars. If you don’t have an electric charging point for cars at the office, employees aren’t going to drive to work in their electric car.
Investing in the installation of electric charging points in your company car park is the first step in developing a culture of electric car usage. Through charging point installation, your organisation puts out a strong message that your company is actively looking to cater for electric vehicles. This alleviates a massive barrier for staff who are considering making their next vehicle purchase an electric vehicle.
ii) Company Policy: Many companies give their staff company cars to fulfill their duties. Even more, companies have subsidy schemes for staff buying new cars. Why doesn’t your company go electric with its next fleet of company cars?
Overnight Electric Vehicles will become a key part of your organisation’s future. Plan for the inevitable and encourage electric car drivers by offering preferential mileage and travel reimbursements.
Park & Ride: Park & Ride allows commuters heading to city centres to leave their vehicles and transfer to a bus, rail system, or carpool for the remainder of the journey. It is one of the most popular methods of transit among commuters who travel longer distances.
“If your organisation is centered near public transport hubs this approach can be a great way to get employees to cut down on their road time.”
By offering to pay for parking and subsidising transport costs, your organisation can greatly increase employee mobility through the Park & Ride method.
Journey Planning: If your staff knows where they are going to park before they leave their house, there are massive benefits. According to leading parking academic Donald Shoup, the average person spends 800m per journey looking for somewhere to park.
Picture your own employees, playing out this commuting scenario at your workplace? Every day, employees converge on your office with the hope they’ll find parking nearby. Some staff members might be lucky enough to grab a spot in the company car park. However, for their remaining coworkers, it is much more complicated. This unlucky bunch arrive at the office to find the car park full, then swing around to the local car park to find that it’s also full. They then start to patrol local housing estates before eventually finding a space after 15 minutes. Every organisation with limited employee parking, has commuters who experience this scenario on a regular basis.
Imagine this average 800m journey at scale. Outside your office building, there could be hundreds of cars replicating the same habit every morning causing traffic chaos for your employees and the local area.
“By introducing strong parking allocation systems, your staff can know ahead of departure whether they have a parking space at the office.”
Allowing your staff to plan their destination will eliminate time spent on the road in the process.
Employee Incentives: So you have introduced all of the above and too many of your employees are still driving fuel powered cars to and from work? What else can you do? Well, there is one further answer. A growing number of companies around the world such as KPMG are actually paying people to leave their cars at home. Everyday, an employee who takes alternative transport to work will get a little bonus in their pay packet at the end of the month.
Fiscally, it makes a lot of sense for your organisation to invest in these employee incentives. If you are spending thousands of euro a month on renting parking spaces for staff, why not reduce the number of parking spaces and give staff who choose not to park a little bump?
Regardless of how you optimise your workplace mobility, a considerable sum of employees will always need a certain amount of parking spaces, which brings parking problems to the fore. This creates a massive challenge for HR & Facilities staff to manage parking facilities and ensure there is just the right amount of space for everyone.
When it comes to streamlining employee parking you need to look at two key questions.
- How to optimise your parking spaces?
- Who should pay for staff parking?
Parking Space Optimisation: With the price of parking for staff often exceeding €4,000 a year, staff parking can become coveted and a real source of internal tension. Many prospective employees won’t even consider a job in a location which doesn’t have parking facilities to suit their needs.
This is putting great pressure on Facilities & HR professionals who are being left with the unenviable task of developing an “Employee Parking Policy” or “Staff Parking Policy”. The policy has traditionally manifested in one of two ways.
The Old Way
i) Assigned Spaces: The limited available spaces are assigned based on seniority or length of service. This often appeases senior & long-serving members of staff who are guaranteed a space. However, it doesn’t take into consideration what happens when assigned staff have used alternate travel, are working abroad, on holidays, out sick or are away from the office for any reason. The irony is that your senior staff are often out of the office more often than other staff members due to their heavy schedules. Your leaders, closers, and influencers who are guaranteed parking engage most heavily with the outside world. This results in an average of 30% of your ‘limited spaces’ being empty at any given time.
ii) First Come, First Serve: The first come, first serve approach has been characterised as the ultimate space race. If you arrive in time, you’ll get a space and if not, tough luck. While this approach may have certain benefits, it doesn’t work for the staff who actually need parking most. For a young professional who lives close by, taking the car to work is more a luxury than necessity. Getting to work for 8 a.m. to guarantee a space is easy and accessible. However, a parent of two children, living in the suburbs may not have such an effortless morning. After two school runs and traffic within the city centre, finding a space seems hardly likely.
“Without proper management over available spaces, employees who need a break most will never receive it.”
Often companies operate a blended model of the above approaches where key staff members are assigned spaces and it’s first come, first serve for the remainder.
These models fail to grasp the complexities of parking and the needs for effective employee mobility. The length of commutes, distance from city center, personal lifestyle, and physical ability should all play a role in parking assignment. With limited company parking, all factors must be accounted for to maximise efficiency.
Progressive HR or Facilities Managers have looked to introduce new systems to try manage parking spaces more effectively. While these systems are a marked improvement, they often entail complex Excel sheets or cluttered WhatsApp groups which often become a job in themselves to simply manage. In the process solving some of the parking pain, poorly designed parking management systems become time intensive and expensive for companies to implement.
The Real Cost of Parking Problems To Your Company
It’s vitally important for companies to get parking right. Your organisation should be aware of the massive hidden costs to company parking across a broad section of business functions.
The Real Estate Cost: There is nothing worse than paying for something and then only half using it. Parking spaces don’t come cheaply, the average cost of a parking space in Dublin city centre according to the HWBC Market Outlook is up to €4,000.
If you follow the assigned spaces model. Let’s estimate that between meetings, holidays, illness, travel and remote work each parking space is empty, on average, one day a week. Your company would be paying €800 a year per space simply due to inefficient parking management.
The Employee Cost: Research from the University of Cambridge shows long commutes have a negative impact on employees.
“Longer commuting workers are 33% more likely to suffer from depression, 37% more likely to have financial worries, and 12% more likely to report work-related stress.”
In addition, workers with long commutes are more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation and obesity issues.
Happy and productive employees are key to every company. Taking proactive steps to ensure that your staff can get to work is vital. The first place to start is to ensure that your company parking is benefitting as many staff members as possible.
It is detrimental to company morale when low-level employees who must pay for parking due to capacity constraints see a half-empty parking lot. Whether senior management is travelling abroad or a few high-level employees are on holiday, commuters without assigned spots will become resentful toward your organisation’s facility mismanagement.
Research by consultant, Jeff Parks, found “with a 30-45 minute commute, the probability of quitting jumped to more than 92 percent.” On average, it costs 20% of an employee’s salary to replace them when you consider lack of productivity, lag times, recruitment costs, staff interviewing time into the mix. Don’t allow poor parking practices to cause a resourcing burden for your company by ensuring the staff receives the benefits they deserve.
The Administrative Cost: Facilities & HR professionals are left in a catch 22 situation when it comes to parking. They either take a hands-off approach, spending hours dealing with unhappy staff who are constantly complaining about lack of parking or they go hands-on and spend hours administrating complex manual processes.
Either way, this is an unnecessary drain on your company’s operations which is costing you and your company money and resources.
The Environmental Cost: Sustainability is an ever-increasing buzzword with businesses gearing up to tackle one of the biggest issues of our time, the environment. While pledges to reduce carbon emissions resolves the direct environmental issues, companies often lose sight of the indirect damage they cause through their daily operations.
Each staff member without employee parking is emitting around 1,500lbs of carbon driving each day, simply looking for somewhere to park. To offset this carbon footprint, companies would need to plant 20 trees a year per staff member.
What Should My Company Do?
In recent years, the once daunting prospect of optimising your staff parking is now made much easier with the help of technology. Automation has unleashed endless possibilities which allow companies to:
- Ensure 100% parking occupancy at all times.
- Reduce administrative burden.
- Improve employee happiness by increasing volume & frequency of staff parking in company spaces.
- Reduce your companies carbon footprint.
- Save up to 50% on your companies annual parking bill.
ParkOffice is the leading provider of office parking management software globally and is trusted by major companies such as Befimmo, MVGM and Colliers International.
Need More Space?
So you’ve optimised all your space to a tee and you still have massive parking problems. Maybe, your organisation needs to look into supplementing your existing parking supply with extra space.
Car Parks: Local car park operators are a natural next step to expanding your organisation’s parking supply. They tend to have lots of space and are often open to doing long-term contract rates, bringing large discounts. Equally, many car parks are open to short-term arrangement, focusing on daily & weekly rates which tend to bring much smaller discounts.
Community Groups: Local community groups can be a great source of supplementary space. They tend to be busiest in evenings and at weekends, so they are only delighted to generate additional revenue from their parking spaces during the working day. Community centres, sports clubs, and churches are all examples of groups worth targeting.
Real Estate Companies: Large property owners and management companies often have an abundance of parking spaces, dotted across urban areas. Examples of unused areas may include various spaces within apartment blocks or undeveloped lots for future construction.
“The real challenge with sourcing additional space is actually getting to decision makers quickly. If not managed correctly, finding supplemental parking can turn into something of a wild-goose chase.”
Luckily, online marketplaces make finding available parking options a streamlined and relatively simple process. These marketplaces are used heavily by car parks, community groups, and real estate companies to advertise underused space and are a great place to start your search.
Parkpnp in Europe, SpotHero & Parkwhiz in the US are all great examples of marketplaces with a broad offering of spaces. Due to the nature of their businesses, these marketplace operators have excellent connectivity with space-owners. If your organisation is unable to find a space-owner that is right for your needs, reach out to the marketplace directly for help finding the best match. Most marketplace operators have large stocks of spaces which are not publicly displayed at the request of the space-owner, allowing your organisation the perfect opportunity to find supplemental parking spaces.