Next level commuting: how Next is championing active and sustainable travel

Sarah McAlinden, Travel2Next Facilities Coordinator at Next, offers us her top tips for encouraging and embedding sustainable travel in the workplace.

What are some of the key things that Next does to make it easier for staff to travel to work actively and sustainably?

My Travel2Next role is to promote active and sustainable travel to staff working at head offices, stores and online call centres. My colleague Caitlynne Picot carries out the same role to support staff working at distribution centres.

Our website can be accessed by staff internally and externally. The site provides usual links such as bus and train timetables and a contact form for any questions staff may have. The site also offers a live chat function, and links to Commute2Next which is a private sharing portal for someone to find a colleague to walk, cycle or car share to work with.

As well as offering Personal Journey Plans and a Cycle2Work Scheme, our staff are able to take part in incentivised ‘Active or Sustainable’ competitions.

We encourage those that drive to switch to hybrid or electric by offering free charging at our head office, distribution and online call centres.


How do you promote the active and sustainable travel message internally amongst staff?

We get the message out via email through our Employee Portal, as well as through blogs on our Travel2Next website and on our workplace social media channel, Yapster.


What have you found to be the most effective ways to create behaviour change?

Two things are key here. The first is incentives. Where funding at Local Authority level has allowed, we promote free bus tickets which is a great way to convert staff from car to bus. Some Local Authorities also offer E-Bike loans which are popular particularly in the summer months. We see around 600 entries each month for our themed competitions which currently offer a Google Smart Speaker to names drawn from a hat.

The other one is listening. Talk to your staff, listen to their concerns and help them to overcome the barriers that are in place.


What has been your favourite success story so far?

One staff member sold his car and bought a road bike after speaking to us at a Travel Clinic. He has since converted his road bike into an E-Bike and is still cycling to work daily.


How do the staff benefit?

Less cars = Cleaner Air, Quieter Roads, Safer Journeys


What is a piece of advice you would give to an organisation or business just starting out on their sustainable travel journey?

Be organised and prepared. Carry out an annual site survey and annual travel surveys. Both of those will form the main basis of your Travel Plan.

Engagement is important. Carry out sessions to engage with staff, such as Travel Clinics. Colourful poster also always work well.

Make sure to offer incentives. This can be a small thing like a free hot drink and porridge to those walking or cycling to work.

My top advice is to join ModeshiftStars. This is by far the simplest and easiest way to create and monitor your Travel Plans.

Find out more about the benefits of active and sustainable travel for your workplace and pledge your support.