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To Save the Planet, the Time Has Come to Give Our Daily Commute the Boot

The pandemic gave us a small glimpse into what happens when we stop commuting to work. Can this translate to a long-term solution? 

More than two years into the pandemic we can start to debrief on the lessons learned from COVID and its impact on the world of work. And one area that is ripe for disruption is our commute. 

During the peak of COVID, lockdowns provided an incredible opportunity to see what would happen to the environment if our daily commute was reduced or even eliminated. Driven in large part by lockdowns and more remote work, the drop in emissions marked the largest decline on record as less people drove to, from, and for work. Global greenhouse gas emissions plunged by roughly 2.4 billion tons in 2020, a 7% drop from 2019.  
However, the retreat was short-lived. By the end of 2021 emissions not only rebounded, but they surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose by 6% in 2021 to 36.3 billion tons, their highest ever level, as the world economy rebounded from the pandemic and pivoted towards new ways of working. 
All of this begs the question, could COVID help usher in an era of working greener and more sustainable? 
What We Learned 
Our pandemic experience taught us that many, though admittedly not all, jobs can be performed successfully utilizing more flexible schedules and working locales. Whether it’s fully, a hybrid model with time spent in office and working remote, a 4-day workweek, or any number of other situationships, we learned that not only can flexible work work, employees are craving the ability to move away from traditional working models.  

In ManpowerGroup’s recent report, The Great Realization:  A Look at the 2022 Labor Landscape, we explored the  Reinvention of Work by Workers – Flexibility, Location, and Purpose. The top three most important work flexibility factors cited were:  

  • Ability to choose start and end times (45%)  
  • More vacation days (36%)  
  • Having fully flexible workplace options (35%)  

Reboot the Commute 
It’s that flexibility that can play an important role in companies empowering their employees to not only work the way they want to but help play what could be a vital role in cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions. A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of CO2 per year and the transportation sector accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions.  

There are methods all of us can use to take small, but consequential steps towards being part of the solution. From biking to walking to public transit to carpooling and beyond, there are options available to reboot your commute on those days you commute to work.  
Already, our people are taking steps to make an impact. For example:  

  • In France, we found it was a struggle to fill vacancies in temporary roles due in large part to candidate transportation challenges (lack of car ownership, limited access to public transit in rural areas, etc.). To create a solution for our employers and candidates, ManpowerGroup partnered with BlaBlaCar, the world’s leading long-distance carpooling platform. This allowed us to provide ridesharing/carpooling services to ManpowerGroup associates, temp workers, and candidates resulting in a greater ability to connect clients with the labor force they needed while also reducing our carbon footprint. 
  • With 160 locations, ManpowerGroup Germany wanted to be a pioneer in climate action and saw commuting solutions as an area for opportunity. In order to achieve ManpowerGroup’s climate goals, Germany partnered with mobility manager Belmoto to create strategy and provide a range of commuting and transit options - from leasing and car subscriptions to bikes and electromobility. And the two partners are already discussing ways to expand this relationship to provide more solutions. 

To  accelerate ManpowerGroup’s sustainability journey and our efforts toward reaching Net Zero by 2045 (or sooner), this month we launched a pilot with our own employees, and associates, to understand their commuting habits and how we can encourage more sustainable ones. France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, and the UK are participating in the pilot where we will capture data from our people to better understand their current commuting routine, but also their view of commuting, and how we as a company can better support our people and our environment at the same time.  
We believe what matters is measured, and what is prioritized and communicated gets done. To deliver on our validated science-based emission reduction targets and reach our Net Zero goal, we have five priorities:  

  • 🔌Electrify our fleet 
  • 💡Boost use of renewable energy 
  • ️Reduce business travel 
  • 🤝 Engage suppliers to reduce impact 
  • 🚲 Decarbonize commuting 
We have an opportunity to treat every day as Earth Day and by doing so, we can reduce our own carbon footprint and leave the planet in better shape for future generations.  

Learn more about how ManpowerGroup is delivering on these Climate Action priorities: