Reducing the cost of business travel

According to  research commissioned by Tony Corbin, the eHampshire Partnership  Project Manager for MATiSSE (Mobile And Teleworking Initiative for a Smarter South East) a staggering £2.75 million pounds per month in fuel costs could be saved across the South East region alone simply by reducing unnecessary business and commute travel.
    
During Hampshire’s Smart Commute Week this year, running from the 2nd through to the 6th of November, Tony and his team aim to demonstrate the benefits of taking an alternative approach to the daily commute and invite you to join them.

The ‘One in Five Challenge’
“At the risk of stating the obvious, it only requires one in five of your employees to work from home or share transport to and from work at least once per week to reduce the cost of business and commute travel by 20 per cent”, explains Tony.
    
“The idea behind the ‘One in Five’ challenge is to focus managers’ attention on achieving that goal and reaping the benefits. We are throwing down the gauntlet and inviting other local authorities to join Hampshire County Council, local Borough and District Councils as well as the Portsmouth and Southampton Unitaries in our quest to save money”.

Collaboration not competition
Whilst the notion of issuing a challenge makes good headlines, it’s really about cooperation not competition.
    
Having instigated and participated in the 2006 MATiSSE pilot, Hampshire County Council has worked with a number of public sector bodies and now commercial organisations, both large and small, to drive down costs and are keen to share what they have learnt with other organisations.

Smart Commute Week Webinars
Each day during last year’s Smart Commute week initiative, webinars were held to discuss smarter working practices covering diverse subjects such as behavioural change, travel planning and efficient home working.
    
Recordings of these webinars which were sponsored by MATiSSE technology partner Ozone Conferencing Limited can be viewed online at: www.OzoneConferencing.com/smartweek2008.
    
Webinars will also feature during this year’s Smart Commute Week and Ozone Conferencing are offering free use of their audio and web conferencing services so that you can try remote working in your own organisation at zero cost.

Hearts as well as minds
Successful webinars are not solely about mastering the technology which nowadays is becoming increasingly intuitive, key to their adoption are the skills needed to effectively moderate the proceedings achieve the meeting or training’s end goal. This could be simply holding a small team meeting or training tens or even hundreds of staff.
    
An example from the corporate sector has been major banks and financial institutions using this type of technology to immediately disseminate key information and coordinate their response to the recent well publicised crisis.
    
In the public sector central government is increasingly using secure telephone conferencing technology to discuss urgent matters of state, however, it still appears that adoption by local government has been less widespread despite increasing budgetary pressures.
    
Given the huge financial, environmental and work-life balance benefits, it is perhaps surprising that the public sector is not embracing this new way of working more enthusiastically.
    
According to Peter Bennett, Ozone Conferencing’s CEO, some of the reasons why people are reluctant to try meeting this way stem from a misunderstanding of how modern services work and bad experiences with the primitive and proprietary technology of yesteryear.
    
The business case for meeting via phone and web is certainly compelling. Research suggests that a typical one hour, six person meeting costs £1,600 including travel expenses. The same meeting held by phone and web would cost less than £30. Such huge savings have actually resulted in a truly bizarre problem. Many organisations simply don’t believe the size of the savings that can be realised, which may account for why some of them don’t investigate further.
    
“People assume that in order to meet by phone and web they will need to purchase and install complex and expensive hardware and software. This is no longer the case. Nowadays, all that’s required is a standard phone and a web browser with an internet connection. No special equipment is required, not even a web cam – and certainly not a CapEx (Capital expenditure request).
    
“Our experience is that once people try meeting by phone and web, they love it and quickly integrate virtual meetings into their preferred way of working. Our challenge is giving them the confidence to give it a go for the first time which why we give them all the help, support and encouragement they need to get started,” says Bennett.

For more information
If you would like more details of how you can be involved in Smart Commute Week and the ‘One in Five Challenge’ please contact Tony Corbin, tony.corbin@hants.gov.uk on 01962 846381.

You can also watch the 2008 Highlights video at http://www.ehampshire.org/matisse

For audio and web conferencing enquiries and to set up your free trial, please contact Alban Ford, info@ozoneconferencing.com, on 020 7928 5560.

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