Small businesses found to be taking a greener approach to business travel

3rd September 2008

More than half (54 per cent) of small companies claim to have changed the way they approach business travel purely because of their concern for the environment, new research reveals today.

A survey carried out by specialist business cash flow provider, Bibby Financial Services, found nearly a third (30 per cent) of owners and managers are trying to cut down on face-to-face meetings by opting for conference calls, while a quarter (25 per cent) take the train wherever possible, thus limiting the time they spend on the roads.

The companies most likely to embrace environmental issues are those firms that have started out in business since the year 2000. Of these, nearly three in 10 (29 per cent) have changed their company vehicles to more fuel-efficient models and nearly a quarter (23 per cent) have introduced environmentally friendly policies, such as car share schemes and cycle to work initiatives.

Around the regions, it is businesses in the West Midlands and the North that have taken the most environmental action. Almost half (49 per cent) of small firms in the West Midlands claim to be scheduling conference calls and jumping on the train to save driving to meetings. In the North, a third (34 per cent) of owners and managers - more than any other region - have switched their company vehicles to more fuel-efficient models and brought in environmentally-friendly policies.

Looking at the business sectors, finance companies are demonstrating the highest level of environmental concern, with 82 per cent of owners and managers having actioned some form of environmental policy for business travel. At the other end of the scale, two thirds (66 per cent) of businesses in the construction sector reported that concern for the environment has not had any impact on their approach to business travel.

David Robertson, global chief executive of Bibby Financial Services, said: “Corporate and social responsibility has without a doubt moved up nearly every business’s agenda over the past few years and it is clear from our research that owners and managers are taking action by reducing the amount of time spent on the road. With nearly three quarters (72 per cent) feeling the effects of rising fuel prices, it is just as well so many have been acting on their concern for the environment as this must have helped to reduce costs.

“However, implementing environmental changes can take a huge amount of effort and commitment. Some of these will also have a financial impact so businesses need to make sure their cash flow is healthy so they can fund any of their planned changes.”