„At my first job, I was still convinced by the company car in the salary package. Today I see things differently – as do many people. With home office, remote work & co., being on the road at work has to be rethought with mobility budgets & co.” Corinna Döpkens, Consultant for Travel Management
The company car was a decision criterion for me 20 years ago when I got my first office job after graduating from university – even though I lived in the middle of Hamburg, parking spaces were scarce and the car stood unused for days. I had to pay tax on the car via the German 1 per cent rule, which is why the car was not entirely cost-neutral. Nevertheless, it worked for me as an incentive system and motivated me.
Today, that has completely changed. A friend recently told me that she turned down a company car, even though her employer is 100 kilometres away and complicated to reach by public transport. But because of her home office, she is in the office no more than once a week and then prefers to travel by bus and train, without traffic jams and without having to look for a parking space in the evening. A car is not worth it for her.
The time is now – for rethought corporate mobility
Examples like these show how much upheaval is taking place in companies. New hybrid working models are opening up new possibilities and also changing the ecosystem of company mobility. The daily trip to the office was yesterday. Home office and perhaps even remote work at another location are becoming more and more natural.
These changes in mobility behaviour demand new innovative solutions and offers from employers – the topics of New Work and New Mobility are closely linked.
The field of corporate mobility is certainly becoming more complex and user-oriented as a result. Large multinational companies are often well enough structured to introduce alternative mobility solutions holistically. Here, travel and fleet managers become mobility managers or even workplace & mobility managers and are in the lead for all future-oriented topics such as New Work, Health & Safety and Mobility. The situation is different for small and medium-sized companies. Responsibilities are often not clear and there is a lack of time and know-how.
What is a mobility budget?
One option in the area of “New Mobility” is the so-called “mobility budget”. A few months ago, a partner consultancy asked me whether I could also support clients in this segment. Not until then, but since then I have been working intensively on it and bringing the topic up with my clients.
In a narrower sense, mobility budgets mean that companies no longer provide their employees with a fixed vehicle used for business purposes, but with a previously fixed budget for free use.
There are no defined standards. Mobility budgets include, for example, job tickets and budgets for sharing offers. But they can also include the monthly amount for a bicycle lease, a car subscription or the monthly share of a BahnCard. The amount of mobility budgets varies depending on the target group in the company.
Flexibility and employer branding for all
The topic is not new, but it had little relevance before the pandemic-related transformation and new-work discussion. For decades, the car was “the” status symbol, especially in Germany. With the change in consumer behaviour, however, flexibility in the use of mobility has now become more important than ownership, especially among younger people. Job tickets and e-scooters are now in demand for daily commuting, car-sharing cars for business trips and weekend excursions, and cargo bikes for weekly shopping.
At the same time, business and leisure are becoming increasingly intermingled in the mobility sector. While the private use of a company car is often reserved for executives or sales staff, mobility budgets and their flexibility can now be used to think about employer branding for everyone and in a fairer way – and thus become an attractive benefit for all employees in all areas and salary groups.
Another pro-argument is climate protection, because an innovative mobility concept is clearly a contribution to sustainable corporate strategy. Previous fleet and travel policies can be renewed to some extent with mobility budgets and CO2-reducing mobility solutions. All companies have opportunities to become active here and can use this not least as a building block of their CSR strategy.
Mobility instead of travel policy
Most companies have a travel policy, but it is often not up to date or unclear. Many employees may not even be aware of this policy.
Other mobility issues are regulated elsewhere, e.g. regarding a company/job ticket for bus and train, the use of parking spaces or a bicycle leasing offer. Particularly in small companies, these rules are not always set out in detail in formal written guidelines; in these cases, possible resolutions or instructions from the management or simply “lived practice” dictate how company mobility is handled. This is confusing and leads to the fact that the employees do not support the topic. A document with all the information is more effective – a mobility policy instead of a travel policy that regulates all aspects of mobility.
That makes work. Yes. The more employees receive an individual budget and the larger the usable mobility offer, the more time-consuming administration, accounting and taxation become. Nevertheless, there is no way around the topic of New Mobility sooner or later. And providers are increasingly launching suitable solutions on the market – especially in the area of digital mobility budgets. This makes it easier and easier for all sides to deal with the topic.
Corinna Döpkens …
does her own job from any conceivable location and has never been so flexible in her choice of transport in recent years. She sees more and more often with her clients: employees stay if they can be flexibly mobile – and this with newly conceived mobility policies including a focused duty of care.
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