APD Insight ruminates on the ever-changing landscape of the workplace and what it could mean for company car drivers and leasing companies/providers.
The face of the workplace is set to be redesigned in light of the government guidance for employers on how to get staff back to work in a way that means they feel safe and that meets new rules on social distancing.
For employers, based on what type of business they run, it means looking at physical environments, processes, procedures and policies for their employees, changes to work patterns, start times, visits to sites and even job roles.
Employers will have to decide what is needed and how to fund these changes to ensure their businesses can re-start and survive within a challenging and uncertain environment.
Future work practices
The gradual re-opening of UK PLC will provide some clarity on peoples’ opinion of what future work practices are acceptable and what might become the ‘new normal’ – even after a total unlocking of social distancing.
Will employees want to come to a work space, meet with others and interact? And how long will it take for any level of confidence to return?
For many employers the new hurdles presented by social distancing will also shift the balance away from office-based staff, with the additional cost of protective equipment, scheduled cleaning of shared equipment and spaces, and the availability of sufficient personal workspace.
It seems that remote working is now set to stay in different forms. Businesses that saw it presenting too many hurdles in the past, for technological reasons for example, have been forced to adapt with speed and resilience. Others have simply changed the way that they do business – systems that have been in place for years have been reworked and redesigned to meet the new needs.
For some workers this will mean that they are now only required to come into a physical shared workspace on a rota basis, maybe once week, for others on a staggered shift pattern and, for some, maybe not at all.
Each business will look at what they need to do and how they can meet the needs of their employees and customers short-term to get back ‘working’ initially and then review longer-term.
There are so many questions that are looking for answers.
This crisis serves as a serious challenge to established or complacent ways of thinking and behaving. The times truly are changing and people at all levels will react, reflect and, in some cases, be motivated and behave differently as we move back towards the ‘new normal’.
These changes have the capacity to impact a whole range of different aspects on present work and life balance.
Is the event we are going through the tipping point for many in understanding how technology can empower us to work smarter and not harder?
How might it influence mobility and potentially re-draw the population dispersion as people start to evaluate where they live – a factor originally driven by the need to be a certain manageable distance from a place of work?
Will we see a shift to employees wanting to live in more rural locations where there is a perceived better standard of living and more opportunity to enjoy nature as we all have in the last few weeks?
Will businesses move away from larger conurbations where rent is cheaper and there is maybe more space for parking and flexible working patterns?
Environmentalists will be keen to see the improvements that have been evidenced by less air travel, fewer car journeys and industrial processes maintained in some form and people’s attitudes to what is now important in the work-life balance may well have changed. The quiet roads and clear skies that allow you to hear the bird song at full volume, the clearer views over large cities and the healthier rivers – do we want to reverse this again?
What does it mean?
The question that APD Insight has been evaluating is what does all of this mean for the company car driver and providers? Will employees now fear using public transport in any circumstances?
Will trying to commute using a transport network such as the tube/metro, that is speculated to need to run at 15% capacity with slow management of commuters, be a viable option?
Will we become a nation of bikers that are getting more active or will we start to feel that safety in the car is actually the way forward?
One school of thought is that we will decide that we want to take back some more control after weeks of decisions being made on our behalf and that this is expressed as ‘I want to use my car’. My car, where I can control my environment, choose when and how I travel to my location and how I enter and exit that location.
If we are going to be made or choose to work remotely, then conceivably there will be less frequent trips to an office location so this may become the mode of choice and some environmental and personal needs may become more in balance.
Will this push up the adoption of electric cars? If we can plan our journeys better and offer greater access to charging points at workspaces; are taking less frequent journeys; and perceive it a safe environment it may well accelerate the uptake.
How are car manufacturers, dealerships, leasing companies and brokers thinking about their plans? Are policies under review to see how they can support their employees to work in a manner that they feel safe doing so and are they happy to be more flexible about where employees live and facilitate them.
What steps are being taken to engage with retail and business drivers and seek their input into policy making and help to shape the evolution of the new business models which will succeed?
Never has it been more important for businesses to adopt a ‘listen more’ mind set and canvass for new or stress test their own ideas with the users of their products and services.
The world has changed. Now is the time to be proactive in customer engagement and be ready for resumption with a plan formulated for the ‘new normal’ future.