“We leverage our own experiences to start the conversation on sustainability”
More than ever, we reflect on the ways our choices impact the planet, our quality of life and the time we can spend together. Luc and Thor are taking the wheel when it comes to smart mobility. When working from the office in Almere (The Netherlands), the two colleagues at Athlon bike to work. So, who better than them can share some insight on how their personal decisions impact the way they do business?
Luc Augustus (International Sales Director) and Thor Konings (International Account Director) have to travel a lot for their job meeting up with customers. But in times they work from Athlon’s office in Almere (The Netherlands) they go by bike. A 22 kilometers one way trip. Contrary to what you might think, they prefer cycling through wind and rain to the comfort of their own cars.
Why on earth would you cycle 22 kilometers to get to work, when your job provides you with a comfortable car?!
Luc: Many would disagree, but we believe 22 kilometers is just within the boundaries of a bikeable commuting distance. At our pace, it takes us about an hour to get there.
Thor: Because of the pandemic, we come to the office just once a week. But before, we would bike together twice a week when we were working at the Almere office. I sometimes think it’s funny, too. We have a comfortable electric Mercedes at home, but, still, we prefer to go cycling against the wind when we go to the office in Almere.
“For one individual, coming by bike only twice a week saves about 3,000 kilometers a year.”
Luc: You arrive at work feeling refreshed, instead of agitated because of traffic. During our biking commute, we can talk freely about personal and professional topics. Then there’s also the motivation that we’re saving tremendously on car mileage. For one individual, coming by bike only twice a week saves about 3,000 kilometers a year.
Thor: We’re both rather sporty. What helps as well is the amazing scenic route: we ride through picturesque polder landscapes, wooded areas and even a marina where in summer people are kitesurfing and working on their boats.
Did nothing ever go wrong on the road?
Luc: Not really, unless you count in what we call ‘The Beast’. A two-kilometer-long bridge, on which during stormy weather we wished we didn't come by bicycle. (both laugh)
How do your customers react when you tell them you cycle to work, considering that you are working for a car leasing company?
Thor: They are surprised, but always positive actually! I often use it as an icebreaker, since smart corporate mobility is about so much more than company cars. The future lies in a combination of electric vehicles (EVs), (electric) bikes or scooters and making efficient use of public transport. Using the right option for the right moment is key.
Luc: Besides the whole aspect of sustainability, employers also have to adapt their mobility offer to the needs of the people they want to attract.
Are potential new hires on the lookout for companies offering a mobility package specifically fit for their needs?
Luc: As an employer, you have to ask yourself: who are the people I want to attract and retain? What are my core values? The best mobility option for a centrally located bank working with young professionals is different than what I would propose for an out-of-town construction company.
Thor: The market is changing and so is our industry. A new mindset is emerging and as an employer you can’t stay behind. Flexible and sustainable mobility is the future. If we want to minimize our shared impact on the planet, we need to make different choices.
Do you feel it is your responsibility to point people to sustainable options, both privately and professionally?
Thor: Absolutely. In talks with clients, I leverage my personal experiences to talk about sustainability. A future-proof vision on sustainable mobility is at the heart of our company and I really wouldn’t have it any other way.
Luc: I fully agree. I think it is important to break free from the habit of hopping into your car for every small distance. My wife uses an EV, too, and I try to pass on environmental values to my kids as well. In the end, a solid mobility policy comes down to balance, choice and flexibility.
What tips would you give to fleet managers who need to persuade a more conservative management?
Luc: It’s important to gain support on all levels. Typically, finance is involved, and so are human resources and facility management. Forming coalitions is crucial to get management on board. What’s even more important is to show positive examples and make them understand that the transition isn’t all that complicated.
Thor: Exactly. Some European countries have a more mature EV market than others. We often refer our clients to examples in other organizations or markets. In the end, the necessary energy transition will only succeed if we change our habits together.
“A new mindset is emerging. Flexible and sustainable mobility is the future.”
To end on a less serious note, if you had to choose between a summer trip through Europe on an electric bike, in an EV or by plane, what would you do?
Luc: If I didn't have to consider my three teenagers, I would immediately go for the bike trip. Unfortunately, they wouldn't be very excited. (laughs)
Thor: Because of COVID-19, we took some family trips by car last year. Which was great, but to be honest, I can’t wait to board a plane again and finally unwind. After all this is over, a long bike trip sounds great actually!
Luc: We could even go together!
Thor: If our families approve, of course. We almost spend more time with each other than we do with our wives! (both laugh)