Over the last few decades, corporate transport has become the byword for safe and convenient travel for most office goers. But allowing their employees to overcome the limitations of the public transport infrastructure comes at a price. Employee transport costs are amongst the biggest expenditures for companies that offer such services.

And this cost, with the recent COVID-19 outbreak, is only bound to go up – as is the complexity associated with employee transport operations.

The Challenges

As examples from countries such as India highlight, reopening physical offices after the pandemic will require major structural changes in how businesses operate. For instance, to ensure a safer, more hygienic work environment for their employees, enterprises will need to implement COVID-compliant measures such as regular temperature checks, rotational/staggered shifts, and partial office occupancy. This intervention will also extend to employee transport operations, with social distancing and wearing masks mandatory inside shared corporate vehicles.

Prima facie, this will mean lower occupancy per vehicle which, in turn, translates to more trips per shift and increased fuel costs. Other potential issues include an increase in the average trip time, disruptions in existing office schedules, and lower employee satisfaction. Transport admins will also need to factor in pandemic-related concerns – such as COVID-19 hotspots, vehicle sanitization, and employee/driver health status – into their routing decisions.

To counter these challenges, organizations must implement a framework that accounts for the specific needs of each employee and addresses the issues with cost overheads while being robust enough to handle the unpredictability associated with employee transportation during a pandemic. Doing all of this manually, or with legacy hardware-based routing solutions, is next to impossible – which is why digital fleet management solutions such as Safetrax are essential for modern-day organizations.

Solving the Cost Conundrum: Why digitizing fleet management is the answer

Deploying a solution such as Safetrax can help enterprises in multiple ways. To begin with, it uses locational data, proprietary algorithms, and advanced analytics to automate the routing and vehicle scheduling process. As these routes are optimized for on-road traffic conditions with real-time data, they also ensure that route deviation is minimized while allowing for the flexibility to adapt as per the latest traffic information available (such as logjams created by an accident or vehicle breakdown).

From an operational perspective, this translates into a significant reduction in the distance traveled per trip as well as the associated fuel costs. Creating automated routes also lowers the effective trip time for employees, ensuring that the impact on the employees’ travel experience is minimal. These digital solutions can also be used in conjunction with internal ERP tools to create the most optimal rotational or staggered employee rosters, thus lowering the impact of reduced vehicle occupancy on transport costs. 

The solution also empowers transport admins to secure their transport operations against COVID-related disruptions. For instance, the geofencing feature allows them to exclude ‘red zones’ from the route creation process to avoid pick-ups and drop-offs from COVID-affected areas while the NFC-enabled employee app allows for contactless boarding, deboarding, and seating. Transport managers can also roll out automated checklists for employee health self-declaration, driver temperature checks, vehicle sanitization schedules, in-vehicle inventory, etc. This minimizes the risk of accidental transmission during daily commutes while ensuring that safety compliance during a return to physical offices is at par with the globally mandated standards. The software can also be integrated with in-vehicle cameras to provide the centralized team with a real-time overview of the entire fleet, allowing them to monitor if safety protocols such as social distancing and masks are being followed. Moreover, since the roster data is available and accessible digitally, it can allow transport teams to identify and clamp down the viral spread in case of a positive detection.

Solutions such as Safetrax also greatly reduce the burden on the transport team thus bringing down the cost of human resources required to manage large fleet operations. Such software takes over low-value tasks such as creating and assigning routes, dispatching vehicles/drivers, managing records and rosters, reporting employee leaves and no-shows, compiling audit-related receipts (fuel, maintenance, etc.). This frees up the human experts to undertake more value-driven, strategic objectives. For instance, they can analyze expense reports and undertake more in-depth fleet maintenance, thus optimizing costs and expense planning, as well as extending the lifetime value of vehicles.

Employee transport operations in the post-pandemic world will have to be smarter, more efficient, and more flexible than ever before. The focus, for businesses, should be on optimizing costs instead of saving costs – and digital fleet management will play an integral role in achieving this goal.