This project aims to provide Transport Scotland with a snapshot of employers’ experience of their staff working from home / flexible working, business travel and commuting before the COVID-19 pandemic, during the lockdown in March-June 2020, and in the longer term as we recover from the pandemic. It seeks to develop an understanding of employers’ long-term travel plans and intentions; identify what barriers and enablers currently exist to delivering more home working and sustainable travel; and what measures would support employers in facilitating this shift.

The research surveyed and interviewed representative Scottish businesses on different aspects of travel behaviour:

  • Workplace / journeys to work
  • Business travel
  • Impacts of home working on business and staff
  • Travel planning
  • Measures to support home working and use of sustainable modes of transport.
Findings

Workplace

  • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, most organisations (63%) had at least three quarters of their staff based fully at their workplace.
  • A significant shift to home working occurred during the first pandemic lockdown period (54% of businesses reported that more than three quarters of staff were working fully at home).
  • The survey confirmed that 71% either already support home working or plan to do so in the future.

Journeys to work

  • Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the most common mode of transport used by employees to travel to work was by private vehicle (three quarters of organisations' employees) followed by active travel (57%) and public transport (55%).
  • During lockdown, for those employees who continued to travel to work, private vehicles and active travel predominated.
  • Distance was the most frequently cited barrier to the use of more sustainable modes for journeys to work (68%).

Business travel

  • Before the pandemic, business travel was dominated by use of private vehicles (83%).
  • The lockdown forced a significant shift of activity online, with mixed impacts on business operations. While face-to-face contact is valued by many organisations (90% identified it as a significant barrier to reducing business travel), many suggest that in the future they will attend more meetings and events online than they did before the pandemic (80%).
  • The proportion of future business trips by private car is divided with 22% of businesses more likely to travel by private car, 53% about the same, and 31% less likely.

Impacts of home working

  • Disadvantages cited include impacts on employees with a range of identifiable characteristics (e.g. people with caring responsibilities / living on their own / with mental health issues) together with issues around home-working conditions (55%), broadband/internet connections (51%), and staff recruitment and training (45%).
  • Mixed or negative impacts on health and wellbeing (social isolation/dislocation) were reported by 75% of employers.
  • Positive effects included reductions in organisations’ carbon footprints (89%) and time and financial savings for employees (89%).