Meeting business mobility needs efficiently: for many employers, this is quite a task. How do you ensure that employees have access to enough suitable travel options for their external appointments, without spending unnecessary money on unused mobility?
Changing circumstances have caused many companies and organisations to (re)consider this issue during the corona pandemic. So too did the Dutch Environment Agency. And which decided it was time to go in a new direction.
Employees of environment agencies are on the road a lot. They ensure that all parties in their working area comply with the (legal) obligations in the fields of environment, soil and construction. A large part of their activities therefore consists of visiting companies and organisations to give advice, conduct research, or carry out an inspection.
This also applies to the employees of the Dutch Environment Agency, who can use a pool car from the company fleet for their visits. That used to be done in the traditional way. If an employee needed a car, he or she would call a colleague from the Facility Department. The colleague in question would check availability, process the reservation manually in the back office and, before his or her appointment, the employee would collect the car key from reception.
The employee himself kept track of the kilometres driven for tax purposes, returned the key to reception and reported the number of kilometres driven, which were then manually recorded in the back office.
Many companies and organisations still use their pool cars in this traditional way. At the environment agency, this way of working presented the necessary challenges. First, this way of reserving and using pool cars takes quite a lot of time, and the time of two employees. Second, because all operations and administration were done manually, mistakes were sometimes made. It happened, for instance, that employees did not have a car available at the last minute because a colleague was delayed and had not reported this. Keys were also regularly lost or accidentally taken home.
That mistakes are occasionally made in this way of working is understandable, but also annoying. In practice, it often leads to lost time, extra work, and irritation. Or worse, missed appointments or scheduling problems.
Besides the need to optimise processes, corona also played an important role. Like many other organisations, the environment agency started working more from home during the pandemic. Using a pool car for external appointments therefore became more difficult, as the employee still had to come to the office to do so. As well as someone from Facilities managing the car keys.
“Because of hybrid working, the need arose for us to use the company vehicles independent of time and place, without having to come to the office first to pick up the car key,” says Linda Bierman, Facilities Policy Officer at the environment agency. “We wanted a solution that would allow colleagues to reserve and use a vehicle on their own, at a number of locations in our working area.”
After mapping the requirements, the Environment Agency went through a tender to find the most suitable solution and provider. The desired solution: a system that eliminates the use of physical car keys and allows employees to reserve and use a vehicle completely independently.
Several issues were important here. For example, that the system should offer the flexibility to set different options and rights for different groups of users. This allows the Environment Agency to tailor the application per team to specific needs/policies and deploy the solution organisation-wide.
In addition, the technology must be easy to use. Logical, but also very important. Introducing a new way of working can always be exciting. Especially if it involves new technology and people do not work much with computers, smartphones, or other technology. The organisation wants all employees to be able to use the pool cars easily and pleasantly and therefore paid extra attention to the user-friendliness of the solution.
Another important point was the cooperation with the supplier. The environment agency had not worked with a car-sharing platform before, so this way of pool car use (corporate car sharing, or business car sharing) is completely new. So is educating, guiding and supporting employees in this new way of working. As a result, there is a great need for a partner who thinks along with us, supports us during the start-up phase and is also ready to provide the necessary support afterwards.
In the end, the environment agency chose WeGo as its technology partner. Linda: “Other parties were considered, but eventually WeGo emerged as the best party. That was partly because of the big advantage that a lot can be customised to personal preferences. For example, we want to be able to create several groups, with each group having different guidelines for reserving a car. One group can, for example, make a reservation of up to 24 hours, another of up to 5 days. Also, the user-friendliness of WeGo was very pleasant.”
The entire fleet of electric and hybrid vehicles is now connected to the WeGo platform. This means that employees can now book, open and close a pool car entirely independently via their phones. Using the same app, they can also very easily extend the reservation if an appointment runs late (so that a colleague cannot book the car and ‘miss out’) and register any vehicle damage. At the same time, fleet managers have full visibility and control over the pool car usage thanks to a comprehensive management environment in the cloud.
Digital pool car use at Omgevingsdienst Noordzeekanaalgebied is currently still in the start-up phase, but is already in full swing. WeGo did the implementation process, which involved close contact with the Environment Agency. According to Linda, this worked out well: “During the implementation, we received good help, and still do! WeGo’s colleagues are always there for us.”
Currently, employees are still being introduced to the world of corporate car sharing. The necessary time and attention are being given to this. The organisation is trying out a lot and getting colleagues used to it. This is always part of a process where you introduce new tools and a new way of working. WeGo remains involved throughout to assist where it can.
Meanwhile, the first benefits are already becoming visible. For example, the workload within the Facilities team has already clearly decreased, as employees are now responsible for reserving and using the company vehicles themselves. That is a great result! Once all employees have become fully accustomed to this new way of using pool cars, we at WeGo are convinced that no one will want to go back to the old situation. After all, digital use of pool cars is flexible, efficient, sustainable and future-proof!
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