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With the pandemic-triggered phenomenon of employees working from home, UK businesses are adapting to remote working trends more quickly than their European peers, according to the latest Arval Mobility Observatory Barometer, a research arm of vehicle leasing and mobility solutions provider Arval.

Of respondents who have undertaken changes (9% in the UK and 7% in Europe), 39% in the UK have introduced mobility solutions for employees ineligible for a company car compared to 19% in Europe; 37% have added car sharing for employees compared to 25%; and 38% have revised the model or mileage aspects of their company car policy compared to 29%.

Shaun Sadlier is head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK.   -  Photo: Sadlier

Shaun Sadlier is head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK. 

Photo: Sadlier

In Europe, only one area moving faster than the UK is the development of alternative mobility solutions such as bicycles and scooters, with 22% having taken action in Europe compared to 14% in the UK, where no tax or regulatory framework propels its adoption.

“The trend towards increased homeworking has been one of the most visible effects of the pandemic for businesses, and there is clearly potential for making changes to travel policies in response,” said Shaun Sadlier, head of Arval Mobility Observatory in the UK. 

A surprising aspect of the Observatory’s findings is the relatively small number of companies making travel policy changes – around 9% of the UK companies surveyed and 7% in Europe, Sadlier pointed out. “It would be an exaggeration to call this a major movement.”

However, according to Sadlier, the most interesting trends concern several developments in mobility solutions: a move towards company adoption for employees ineligible for a company car, the introduction of car sharing and the development of a range of alternative transport modes such as bikes and scooters. The UK has responded enthusiastically in two of these areas compared to the European average.

While the research doesn’t identify exact causes, the most likely explanation is the proactive culture that exists around UK fleet and mobility managers, said Sadlier. “There is a predisposition to review and revise policies very regularly.”

The UK is taking the lead in revising existing company car policies in terms of mileages and models, most likely part of a wider trend, according to Observatory analysts.

Many businesses are adjusting their fleet policies in response to such emerging factors as widespread new vehicle shortages and the arrival of electric vehicles in large numbers, in addition to remote working.

“Our experience is that this doesn’t mean that company car numbers are falling – there is actually some evidence that they are starting to increase – but that car model choice is being opened up, the way they are operated is being modified, and the time businesses spend on the company fleet is increasing. There are a series of sensible adjustments being made,” according to Sadlier.

In a potential preview of the future, many more survey respondents ticked the “considering future implementation’” box rather than “already implemented.”

The 2022 Barometer talked to fleet decision makers in 26 countries, including 20 in Europe.

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