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Flexible working can cut congestion, says RAC

The RAC Foundation is urging businesses to be more flexible with work hours to reduce congestion.

The group believes flexible working could potentially cut the worst peak traffic by up to 10% within five years. Edmund King, RAC Foundation chief executive, spoke at the Work Wise Summit at the QE11 Conference Centre, Westminster today.

He said: “The number of home workers - defined as 'people who work mainly in their own home, or in different places using home as a base' - is estimated to be 3.1 million, or 11% of the total workforce.

“But the potential for millions of other workers to work smarter, either spending some or all of the working week at home, in another location or simply by varying their working hours to allow staggered journey times is considerable.

“If enough companies adopt it then rush hours would ease, road congestion reduce and overcrowding on public transport lessen, cutting travel time for everyone and making it a less stressful part of the day.”

The RAC Foundation’s “Motor and Modems” research shows that if each employee could work from home just one day per week, there would be 20% cut in traffic, equivalent to removing the school run. It says today's technology is better and cheaper so more employees have the chance to work some of the time from home.

King said: “Even those essential workers who will never have the choice of working from home may be able to negotiate more flexible working patterns and for those whose job makes this impossible - then at least by removing some of the congestion, it may might make their journey a bit easier.

Friday is ‘National Work from Home Day’, which King said is aimed at letting businesses and staff test out how productive work could be from home.

The RAC Foundation has called for:

  • The Government to fund more publicity measures to highlight the advantages of teleworking to both employers and employees and introduce more policies to encourage flexible working practices.
  • More firms to offer flexible working hours or full or partial home working to parents of young children and also extend the right to all parents of dependent children and to the UK’s six million carers.
  • More research into the present extent of teleworking and potential future benefits.
  • Development of smart card ticketing so that transport suppliers can offer more flexible tickets, for example, three-day season tickets, to encourage teleworking.
  • Tax incentives and a clarification in legislation to allow easier home working.
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