In order for us to maintain the strong relationships we have built over time, travel is essential. However we recognise that we must balance this need sensibly with our obligations regarding sustainability and delivering value for money. To achieve this balance we ensure our reasons for travelling are justified, necessary to meet business objectives and consider whether any viable and reasonable alternative is available.
Employees are encouraged to consider greener alternatives to business travel by seeking to maximise financial savings and obtain better value for money while also considering the environmental damage caused by excessive greenhouse gas emissions resulting from car and air travel.
We are supported by the Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) in our efforts to manage our business travel needs, and where possible our employees are encouraged to support the most sustainable means of transport for business.
Our headquarters in Exeter is in a prime location due mainly to its excellent transport links by road, rail and air, making it easily accessible from other parts of the UK and overseas.
We did not want our workforce, which is in excess of 1,200 employees, to have detrimental impacts on the local transport network. Therefore the Met Office encourages green travel alternatives such as car sharing, using Exeter's public transport and cycling and walking where possible.
To find out about the local transport links, Find us in Exeter
Cycling is better for the environment and also leads to healthier staff. Recently this has lead to a greater improvement of cycling routes in and around cities like Exeter.
The Met Office supports Cyclescheme. Staff can choose a bike and accessories up to the value of £1,000.
We buy the bike and loan it to the employee as a 'hire agreement'. The cost is deducted from the employee's gross salary over a period (typically 12 months).
At the end of this term employees have the option to buy the bike for a fair market value. A number of staff across the UK have taken advantage of this scheme, with very positive feedback.
We also have a Met Office Bicycle Users Group (MOBUG) group which organises social trips at weekends and night rides during summer months; the group promotes the health benefits and social aspects of cycling.
We also have pool bikes at our headquarters that staff can borrow. The bikes come in different sizes, for ladies and gents. We even have an electric bike and a fold up bike. Using the pool bikes often help staff decide the type of bike they would like if they are thinking of purchase their own.
The new bikes have been provided on a lease basis, along with the essential biking accessories, which means that as well as being maintained regularly, they will be replaced each year.
National and international air travel is an integral part of business development and continuity across the Met Office. Not only does this offer us the opportunity to expand our corporate horizons but also offers our scientists and engineers the opportunity to visit conferences, hold meetings, offer consultancy and generate business across the globe.
However, as an organisation with the environment very much at its heart, we recognise the need to limit GHG-producing air travel. Therefore, our staff must go through a rigorous justification process in order to determine whether air travel is essential.
In order to curb the trend of increased air travel, alternative approaches such as video and telephone conferencing are also offered.
We also have a fleet of modern low-emission pool cars known as the White Fleet for close distance business travel. We have a pool of 11 vehicles leased for periods of three years. Staff use these for business travel instead of their own vehicles in order to minimise emissions.
In the event a member of staff needs to use their own vehicle, modern fuel-efficient cars can gain approval if their owner can provide proof of their vehicles emissions.
At the Met Office we work with the Hogg Robinson Group (HRG) which provides help with our business travel needs.
We appointed HRG to achieve the following objectives:
1. Identify the location of employees in case of emergency and/or a security incident, so that appropriate support can be provided.
2. Track spend patterns and identify cost saving opportunities
3. Record and identify potential ways to reduce emissions.
Continual improvements to this system enable us to keep track of our movements across the globe as well as identify areas where justified business travel might not be necessary, and so reduce our emission contributions.
In August 2011 a graduate summer placement student ran a campaign called Question, Avoid, Reduce. This campaign encouraged staff to think twice about business travel options by asking the question 'could an alternative means of transport be used or is the trip even necessary?'
Last updated: 24 September 2013