Audrey Bernhard, The Wise Group’s Active Travel Plan Lead

The Wise Group

The Wise Group is a leading social enterprise working in Scotland and the North East of England

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Project Timeline

The Wise Group

As part of the 2020/21 Travelknowhow Scotland(TKHS) budget we offered workplaces the opportunity to access free consultancytime to support them with their workplace travel planning measures.  Following attendance at one of the VirtualWorkplace Travel Planning Workshops, the Wise Group expressed an interest inthe free consultancy time.

Project Execution

The Wise Group is a leading social enterprise created to lift people out of poverty by helping people into jobs, tackling fuel poverty with advice, and supporting those leaving prison so they can successfully re-integrate into communities.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Wise Group began a journey of cultural transformation, implementing a ‘remote first' approach to working flexibly, which involved adapting working practices within the organisation away from a traditional office-based model to a model whereby colleagues can work from‘ anywhere’ - whether this be from home, from a community venue such as a local library or from one of the Wise Group’s network of hubs established across key locations.  


At the heart of this culture change is commitment to enterprise values and colleague wellbeing. The Wise Group wanted support from TKHS to develop, implement and analyse an organisation-wide employee travel survey that could be used as a benchmark as they embark on their new remote first way of working.


Following discussions, it was agreed that that initially the Wise Group would benefit from gathering some insight from their employees. It was agreed that TKHS would facilitate a series of focus groups to explore views and attitudes towards sustainability, in particular to understand the attitudes towards sustainable and active travel options post lockdown and sustainably in terms of evolving and adapting working practices within the organisation.


So far TKHS have led five virtual focus groups session with over 50 employees attending (20% of the workforce).  These sessions were conducted over Zoom and attendees came from a mixture of business departments and so there was a good mix of heavy business travel employees and early adopters of the culture change.


These groups have provided valuable insight in terms of attitudes to travel and transport options as well as to the new working practices and wellbeing packages that the Wise Group have rolled out.


TKHS  are now working with the Wise Group to run follow up virtual focus groups that will build on these insights, explore certain themes and approaches to travel in more detail and from which TKHS will provide outline recommendations that theWise Group can take forward in the development of their own formalised Active and Sustainable Travel Plan and also in terms of linking into theirEnvironmental Management System, providing a solid basis from which to gather ongoing evidence of its environmental impact in relation to employee travel.


The Wise Group’s Active Travel Plan Lead,Audrey Bernhard, said:

“We know that when our colleagues are at their best, we are successful and can transform more lives. Putting colleagues at the heart of everything we do is essential in us achieving the right outcomes.


Prior to the pandemic, the Wise Group adopted a remote first approach. This promotes trust, not presenteeism and lets colleagues work flexibly at times and locations that suit them, while bringing us closer to our customers.

Working with Travelknowhow Scotland helped us engage and reflect on attitudes towards travel and transport since we implemented this new way of working.


Through the focus groups arranged, we have been able to identify challenges and barriers, real or perceived, that our colleagues face to choosing active and sustainable travel.


This, along with Travelknowhow’s expertise, has assured us that our approach will enable us to produce a sound Active andSustainable Travel Plan to help us advance our cultural, environmental, and strategic aims.”

Would you like to encourage more active and sustainable travel choices across your organisation?

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