The National Business Travel network (NBTN), part of the government's ACT on CO2 campaign, is calling on businesses to implement smart travel plans for staff to cut costs and significantly reduce carbon emissions.

Reducing unnecessary and costly travel can help companies cope in the tough economic climate but according to latest figures, only 6 per cent of UK companies facilitate sustainable travel for employees. The good news for businesses is that staff are keen to embrace more flexible ways of working which are in turn more productive and eco-friendly.

Encouraging car sharing saves employers money on mileage claims and expenses such as parking space maintenance. Bicycle hire schemes and converting a company car fleet to more fuel efficient, greener vehicles benefits the environment, reducing carbon footprint. Flexible and home working also saves companies considerable costs: at BT it has reduced absenteeism to 3.1 per cent (the national average is 8.5 per cent).

And BT has calculated that a reduction in commuting by homeworkers has resulted in over 7.5 million kg of CO2 emissions being avoided from those journeys. Other companies that have successfully implemented smart travel plans include BSkyB and E-ON.

Latest research by NBTN of employees who travel to work in Great Britain reveals that over half of those surveyed (63 per cent) would take up a work travel plan if their company offered one. A work travel plan uses more sustainable modes of transport like car sharing, cycle schemes and flexible or home working, if employers facilitated such schemes. More than 1 in 4 (28 per cent) of those surveyed stated that flexible working would also increase their loyalty to an employer and over a fifth (24 per cent) felt it would significantly improve their productivity. The potential benefits of travel plans for businesses, as demonstrated by companies like BT, are clear: increased employee reliability, productivity and improved corporate credentials.

Key factors which currently determine employees chosen method of transport are convenience (64 per cent) and cost (29 per cent). Just over a third surveyed currently use a car to drive themselves to work, however many employees who travel to work would consider alternative means of travel with almost 1 in 5 (18 per cent) surveyed willing to take part in a car share scheme.

Heather McInroy, Programme Director for NBTN says; "I am urging all businesses to embrace a modern approach to work travel practices. Business resilience, recruitment, retention and business agility to meet customer demands is at the heart of this issue. It is great to see that such a high percentage of employees would consider buying into a work travel scheme and I hope that employers now act on this. The message is clear flexible workstyles and travel plans are good for the environment, good for business and good for employee well-being."

The National Business Travel Network (NBTN) is a business-to-business network which enables companies to share best practice and promote the rationale for travel plans and Smarter Choices. Through research and practical case studies, NBTN is developing and demonstrating the strong business case for workplace travel planning.

A work travel plan is a strategy for managing the travel generated by an organisation, with the aim of reducing its environmental impact. A travel plan aims to reduce over-dependence on car use by promoting sustainable alternatives such as working from home, teleconferencing or using alternatives methods of transport such as walking, cycling or public services.