About the organisation
Liftshare helps employers solve the challenges that their workforce face in getting to work. The commute is often the least efficient or enjoyable journey that many people make and Liftshare is working hard to change this. We are on a mission to help commuters to travel happy and sustainably.
Liftshare partners with hundreds of the UK’s most innovative employers, providing secure online carpooling schemes and sustainable journey plans for their staff. Liftshare’s 700 clients save over £40million a year and their 1 million members have saved over 1 billion car miles by simply sharing journeys to work.
Before COVID-19, Liftshare’s vision was to achieve zero carbon commuting by 2040. As a result of shifts in commuting patterns due to COVID-19, we now thoroughly believe that the best employers and cities can achieve zero carbon commuting as early as 2030.
In the nine months pre COVID-19, Liftshare experienced a record year. We’d just celebrated our millionth member, our billionth saved mile and demand for our services was at an all-time high: company car parks were full, air quality and the environment were back on the public radar and sharing was ‘cool’.
On 16 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson advised everyone in the UK against "non-essential" travel and contact with others, and to work from home if possible. Our world had changed overnight. Car parks emptied, air quality improved by 30 years and sharing was not allowed. Or was it?
We started receiving frantic emails from NHS, supermarket and logistics clients and their staff, asking if they were still allowed to share cars. Before COVID over 2.5 million people shared a lift to work every day, more than travelled by either bus or train. Many of them could not work from home and they needed to know how get to work safely now.
Guidance on the guidance
With much needed support from the CBI, our local MP and the media, we managed to get clarity from Public Health England that car sharing with a colleague from work was allowed and guidelines on how to do it safely. We immediately published the guidance for workplaces and commuters on our website and ran a series of webinars for employers.
Use ‘real time’ customer insights to spot new trends and behaviours
There has never been a more important time for us to be close to our customers. Since the start of lockdown, we have already carried out four customer surveys, run multiple webinars and spoken to as many people as we can. With 1 million members and 700 employer clients we’ve been able to get quick insights into the new challenges and opportunities to help. The results were astonishing and have been invaluable; for example, 48% of commuters planned to travel differently to work after lockdown. The biggest change was a 500% increase in people wanting to work more from home, followed by a 70% increase in people planning to cycle to work. Some employers are not planning to let employees travel by public transport at all if they want to work in the office.
Stay true to your vision and values but be open to anything else changing
We may have the same vision and the same team but in the last three months, ALL of the services we provide have been reimagined and tweaked to better serve the new market conditions.
To do this we followed our own framework which we call HAPIAR. It’s based on agile methodology and has enabled us to focus resources and minds to move very fast and reinvent much of what we do, even with 1/3 of the team furloughed and everyone else working from home.
Since March we have taken eight new services to market. These services address a variety of employer needs, including:
- Helping employers to develop their strategy for their workforce on returning to work safely as an essential part of their risk assessment requirements
- Enabling employers (within 24hours) to identify which commuting options are available to every employee and a report to help identify new challenges and opportunities
- Providing travel plans to all staff listing options in order of social distancing
- Helping users find other travel options available – such as cycling
- Enabling track and trace those who have opted in to share their journey to work
- Inventing a new product in the form of a polycarbonate protective screen for cars
- Investigating a new service giving employers access to the screens and decontamination services for cars.
At Liftshare, we have our CLUB values: Customer focussed, Learning fanatics, United and Bar raisers. The pressure from Covid has shone a spotlight on every one of these and I could not be prouder of how my team have reacted to the challenges we faced.
By seeking to really understand how COVID impacted our clients and members, we learnt fast and became experts in new commuting trends. These insights enabled us to better support our customers and even to turn some potentially tricky conversations about renewing licences into an opportunity to add extra support and value. Just last week, two ‘at risk’ clients signed up for the full Mobilityways package, increasing the value significantly.
Amongst our clients there are some that have thrived, such as Ocado and Amazon, while others have had to make huge cut backs, and some are still waiting to see what happens to their markets. Through zoom calls, surveys and webinars we have found new confidence in the value of our knowledge and belief that our mission for a zero carbon commute is going to be more relevant than ever.
Working from home has forced us to test, learn and adopt new communication rhythms. We have managed to more than halve the amount of time in meetings whilst significantly increasing overall performance and maintaining engagement. We now start every week with a whole team zoom call and the first action is for everyone to give a thumbs up, level, or down on how they are feeling. I don’t think that anyone of us has not had a wobbly week since this started but this simple technique has made it OK to not be OK and really helped us be able to support each other.
What advice would you give to other businesses looking to do something similar?
Liftshare will be 23 years young next month. 2 weeks older than Google, we have run an exciting journey through the .com boom and bust, the internet roll out, smart phones, apps, the Great Recession of 2008, new global disruptors in the mobility space, the cost of living crisis and austerity. From every challenge we’ve had some pain but also gain and we’ve learnt many important lessons.
The three top lessons that have helped us during COVID-19
- Clarity of Purpose – the feeling that our business has to exist really helped all our team focus on finding solutions to the many challenges we faced.
- Collaborate and communicate – Exponential problems need exponential solutions – freely sharing what we have, whether that is knowledge, support, skills or goods builds trust, loyalty and exponential benefits to society. The more we share the more we have.
- Cash is king – our financial strategy of keeping six months of pay in the bank gave us the security and time to pause, ask the audience, rethink, reimagine and reinvent.
Two weeks into lockdown Liftshare surveyed thousands of commuters. When 48% of people said they planned to change how they travel to work, the team realised everything was about to change for them, their clients and their members. The 2020 growth strategy was thrown in the bin and replaced with a start-up mentality – assume nothing, listen carefully and learn fast.
Key facts and statistics
We have gained and grown more clients than we have lost.
COVID-19 has given us a real belief that zero carbon commuting will be possible by 2040, perhaps even by 2030 if employers act now.
Our research has shown that the average commuter produces 735kg of CO2/year travelling to work. Solo car drivers produce 1206kg. 30-40% of workers can already either work from home, walk or cycle to work and have zero carbon commutes.
If by 2030 half of all car commuters have electric cars and they each gave a lift to a colleague then the commute could become zero carbon, we’d have clean air in our cities and the UK would save over 24 million tonnes of CO2 (5% of all our emissions).