The Mobility Manager between new rules, decarbonisation and technological innovation

15-09-2022 | News

An increasingly articulated and strategic role for companies, with marked effects on society and the entire mobility ecosystem.

by Gabriele Grea

The discipline of mobility management has assumed a role of increasing importance in recent years, in light of regulatory evolution, but also of the needs of companies and employees to develop more sustainable and convenient solutions and practices in the field of mobility.

The Relaunch Decree (converted into law on 17 July 2020) and its recent implementing rule (Decree No. 124 of May 26, 2021) represent a new starting point for the introduction of the figure of the mobility manager, reducing the minimum threshold of employees beyond which companies and public administrations will have to acquire this competence from 300 to 100 units, significantly expanding the spectrum of action .

Taking a cue from the new regulatory approach, it is interesting to deepen the current issue of the role, of the targets and of activities key which must be carried out by the mobility manager, as well as synergies with figures and functions of the corporate and territorial ecosystems.

The current legislation identifies the mobility manager as the person appointed by the company or body, specialized "In governing the demand for sustainable mobility in the context of home-work commuting of employees". Its role is closely linked to the annual drafting and adoption of a home-work travel plan (PSCL) for employees, which through the organization and management of the demand for mobility contributes to the structural and permanent reduction of the environmental impact deriving from vehicular traffic. in urban and metropolitan areas.

The role and functions of the mobility manager

What are the key functions that the mobility manager must perform, to improve the relationship between company mobility and the territory, the environment, and employee well-being? Let's start with the PSCL: its structure is composed of a first phase of analysis in which both the structural factors and those relating to the demand are identified, and by a planning and implementation phase.

There analysis phase has the task of create a solid knowledge base on which to set the actions aimed at favoring or generating an improvement in the mobility scheme of the stakeholders. A particularly interesting aspect of the process is the analysis of the propensity for behavioral change, which can only take place through an active and proactive involvement of the actors. Today such participation can be favored by the use of so-called techniques stakeholder engagement (for example through the promotion of thematic focus groups dedicated to the different modes of travel and related problems), with the help of technologies that on the one hand involve the employee in the creation of the knowledge base (eg through digital applications capable of mapping mobility habits, evaluate their rationality, convenience and efficiency and possibly suggest alternative solutions), but also through initiatives of gamification aimed at stimulating the most virtuous behaviors. On this issue in particular, the most innovative companies in the field of support for mobility management activities and the drafting of home-work travel plans now offer dedicated platforms and tools for analysis.

There design phase of the plan (and the activities of the mobility manager) concerns the definition and implementation of measures aimed at achieving the previously mentioned sustainability objectives, which can be summarized in the improvement of company accessibility, the reduction of the use of private mobility by employees and the consequent containment of congestion, and the reduction of local and climate-changing environmental impacts on a scale global. To contribute to the achievement of these objectives, it is essential that an overall strategy is designed which, starting from the cognitive framework, translates into a coordinated and organic system of achievable measures and whose impacts can be measured over time.

The strategic approach to mobility management

Strategy and objectives must take into account the potential impact of the measures on the three categories of subjects involved in the process, that is employeesagency is society as a whole, settling the potential conflicts between private behavior and freedom of mobility on the one hand and the need for more sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility schemes.

The strategic approach underlying the activity of the mobility manager, albeit composite and characterized by a multiplicity of specific objectives and opportunities for action depending on the context in which it operates, can be summarized and described through the formula avoid-shift-improve (ASI), declined as follows:

  • Avoid or reduce the demand for transportation through organizational actions and use of practices and technologies (for example, smart working, teleworking, etc.) that replace unnecessary travel; the approach adopted in defining the measures can be aimed at reducing both travel and distances, through localization and urban development policies; measurable targets will be expressed in avoided passengers / km;
  • Orient the choices of individuals towards modes of transport that generate fewer negative externalities; on the one hand, the actions developed may focus on increasing the load factor services and vehicles (for example in the case of local public transport and car pooling), and on the other hand on the promotion of active mobility (pedestrian, cycling); the result achieved by this type of action is given by the decrease in the number of vehicles / km;
  • Improve the efficiency and sustainability of services and means of transport promoting the transition to propulsion systems with low emissions of local pollutants and climate-altering gases, in this case reducing the grams of CO2 / km produced by transport activities.

As mentioned, the strategies must simultaneously take into account the impacts generated on employees, companies and society, maximizing the benefits that can be activated.

As for the employees, the benefits generated by the implementation of a corporate mobility plan are of various nature and range from those directly connected to the travel action such as the reduction of transport times and costs and accidents or better regularity of travel , to those derived of a personal nature such as a decrease in stress and greater health benefits, opportunities for socialization and the possibility of incentives and economic benefits deriving from virtuous behavior. 

L'agency will benefit above all from better accessibility and as a direct consequence of greater punctuality of employees thanks to the greater reliability and safety of commuting from home to work. Furthermore, the improvement of the corporate image and the inclusion of mobility management within the practices of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and initiatives in environmental social reports, to which, in addition to legal obligations, is added the fact that compliance with the reference legislation is a mandatory requirement to obtain UNI EN ISO 14001 certification.

Finally, the benefits that the mobility management actions of the companies present in the area generate for the collectivity. First of all, the effects on traffic in terms of less congestion and transport times, together with the decrease in accidents. And then the decrease in environmental externalities, in terms of better air quality and lower emissions of climate-altering gases, which together with greater energy efficiency positively influence the quality of life of citizens and the competitiveness of the territory.

This overall picture shows the importance of a coordinated strategy in the analysis, development and implementation of sustainable mobility measures and the monitoring of their effects over time. It is equally important to give continuity and cyclicality to this approach, in a logic of continuous improvement and effectiveness.

The mobility management ecosystem

The mobility manager operates in an ecosystem made first of all of internal relations within the company, which include:

  • the management company with which strategies and objectives are shared, and employees as collaborators in the process of defining the actions and final beneficiaries;
  • other corporate functions such as communication and Informative system, together with which to define messages and supports for the knowledge of the phenomena;
  • energy is fleet manager, with which to carry out analyzes and develop joint measures.

The ecosystem is completed by the web of external relations of an institutional nature (with the network of company mobility managers and with the coordination figure of the area mobility manager) and above all of a commercial nature, with a plurality of suppliers of services and fundamental solutions. for the implementation of effective and innovative measures.

Today, also thanks to the technological development, the measures aimed at improving corporate mobility include innovative options (also in the perimeter of more traditional services) capable of making services increasingly user friendly and flexible, promoting a range of coordinated solutions that are increasingly effective as an alternative to private mobility .

Let's think about carpooling platforms today, increasingly dynamic and integrated with local mobility networks (for example with regional rail services, as is the case in Switzerland) and with sharing options (for example, car sharing). In this evolutionary path enabled by new technologies it is also necessary to mention i mobility systems on demand, updated and flexible version of the shuttle services used to connect the most peripheral production units to existing mobility networks. Finally, a further element of profound innovation for future strategies is represented by the collaboration with the nascent platforms of Mobility as a Service as integrators of mobility services, able to help develop solutions dedicated to the mobility of employees and their families to meet the need for mobility as a whole (and not just for home-work trips).

Decarbonization goal

To conclude, the reflection on the present (and future) role of the mobility manager can only briefly return to the theme of decarbonization and cooperation with energy is company fleet manager, to explore synergies and develop shared solutions. New ways of exploiting assets (for example new models of use and sharing of company vehicles, but also a decrease in total cost of ownership of vehicles), and infrastructure development strategies (for example, the networking of electric vehicles with a view to vehicle to grid, the use of batteries in second life for stationary operations and accumulation of renewable energy, etc.) constitute a fertile ground for collaboration.

Today the process of decarbonisation of mobility and beyond requires a multisectoral approach, within which the "improve"Of the mobility management strategy becomes the link between fleet renewal policies, infrastructure development and management oriented towards energy efficiency, and the adoption of more sustainable behaviors and models by employees and citizens in general .

In this way, the aforementioned benefits that can be activated by good practices and mobility management solutions can be amplified by synergies with the energy efficiency objectives of production plants, decarbonisation and fleet efficiency, providing a strategic contribution to the dynamics of sustainability and competitiveness. of companies.

Gabriele Grea, GREEN Bocconi University

The article was published in the September 2022 issue of Harvard Business Review Italy.

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