Just Mobility

Avoid unnecessary commuting

What´s the problem?

According to the ADAC commuter report, 18 million people in Germany commute at least 10 km to work, averaging 17 km (as of 2017). The majority of these people (over 60%) use the car. The associated daily traffic volume on the roads is enormous. A change to public transport is not possible in all cases, as especially in rural areas there is a lack of appropriate offers and even well developed connections have already reached their current capacity limits. In addition to the expansion of these offers, the necessity of commuting should be questioned in many occupational groups.

What´s the measure?

Depending on the profession and task, commuting is unnecessary. Thanks to digitalisation, many tasks can be performed in the home office. In addition, in the age of Skype and other digital possibilities, consulting/sales activities that require customer contact can be done without physical contact. For these activities, home office must be enabled and unnecessary mobility must be avoided as far as possible. Alternatively, these activities could also be carried out in municipal workspaces provided by non-profit organisations. Furthermore, some professional activities (which also lead to commuting) are completely unnecessary, if not harmful to society.

It is useful to divide the measure into four categories of professions:

*1. occupations in which a large part of the tasks can be carried out in the home office or in municipal workspaces, but in some cases physical presence is also required: *



-Production planner


In these professions, the tasks for which physical presence and thus commuting is required should be blocked sensibly, e.g. to one day a week (or two). Only on this day would the relevant persons have to commute to their place of work - the rest is done at home.

2. professions whose tasks can (as far as possible) be carried out entirely in the home office/municipal workspace:


-Expert (partially)

-Computer scientist


-Patent attorneys


-Web designer

In these professions, the corresponding offices can be closed (and would then be available as living space, for example...) and the tasks are carried out from home or from a communal workspace close to home. Occasionally necessary team meetings should be kept to a minimum (e.g. twice a year or once a month) - everything else can be exchanged digitally.

3. professions whose tasks could just as well be performed by computers/robots/artificial intelligence:

-Office staff (partially)



For these professions, the corresponding jobs and thus unnecessary commuting could be abolished. For reasons of justice, the prior introduction of an unconditional basic income (see Unconditional Basic Income) is necessary for this.

*4. professions where simplification, standardisation, de-bureaucratisation and/or merging/centralisation would eliminate a large proportion of the tasks: *

-Employees in public offices (e.g. residents' registration office, employment office)

-Insurance agents and employees

-Marketing consultant

-Tax consultant

In these areas, task avoidance should be the objective. This would eliminate a large number of jobs and thus also a lot of commuter traffic. For reasons of fairness, the prior introduction of an unconditional basic income (see Unconditional Basic Income) is of course necessary.

What can the implementation look like?

Step 1: Check (by whom????) for which professions or areas of responsibility the categories described above apply. Further implementation depends on category:

Work category 1 (see above):

-provision of the corresponding home office software

-check, whether home office is possible and reasonable or whether alternatively communal working spaces are available in the respective residential area or the creation of such

-training of the employees concerned

-personal and temporal redistribution of tasks within the respective companies and businesses, so that as little commuting as possible is necessary

-External control???

Work category 2 (see above):

-provision of the corresponding home office software

-check, whether home office is possible and reasonable or whether alternatively communal working spaces are available in the respective residential area or the creation of such

-training of the employees

-closure of the offices - conversion for other use of the rooms possible (e.g. living space!)

Work category 3 (see above):

-development of techniques and software that can replace the work of human beings

-model testing of these techniques and gradual introduction

Work category 4 (see above):

This requires major systemic changes, which would have to be designed differently depending on the area (possibly formulate as extra measures). The concept of "Central Humanity Insurance" should serve as an example here:

This insurance could replace the current system of unnecessary diversity of health, long-term care, pension, unemployment and disability insurance. All citizens of Germany would pay into this insurance according to their possibilities or the state would take care of it for them (a suitable system for this would still have to be developed). This humanity insurance would then cover all cases of illness, old age, accidents, etc., whereas unemployment insurance would be dropped anyway when the Unconditional Basic Income is introduced. There would be a central office for this insurance somewhere in Germany. The few activities that cannot be done by computers can be done by people in the home office. In the central office itself, there would hardly be any need for physical presence. The massive centralization and simplification would eliminate a large number of workstations, especially in various statutory and private health insurance companies and in the employment office.

How will this counteract climate change?

Assuming that one third of commuter traffic can be avoided by the measures described (assumption, would have to be checked!) and that 18 million people in Germany commute an average of 17 km (i.e. 34 km back and forth) on 230 working days per year, two thirds of which by car (most of them individually in the car), 34 billion car kilometres could be avoided annually by these measures. With a fuel consumption of 8 litres per 100 km, this would save around 6.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide annually in Germany. In addition, CO2 is saved for commuters who travel frequently by plane for work reasons.

What other effects does the measure have?

Less commuting also means for those affected:

-less stress in everyday life, resulting in better health (and higher performance, if the value "performance" is to be maintained in a new, healthier society...)

-more leisure time

-fewer accidents

For city dwellers, lower traffic volumes mean additional benefits:

-cleaner air --> fewer respiratory diseases

-less noise --> better health

-fewer accidents, also for uninvolved pedestrians, cyclists and playing children

Housing could be created by closing down offices and rebuilding.

How quickly can the measure be implemented?

The measures for occupational areas 1 and 2 (see above) could be implemented almost immediately if the appropriate legislation is in place and the response from the business community is positive. Difficulties in this regard could be the provision of software for home office work and the training of employees in this.

Since the measures in occupational areas 3 and 4 (see above) represent radical cuts in the current system, it is to be expected that implementation will take several years. In particular, the Unconditional Basic Income must have been introduced beforehand, so that no one will mourn the loss of jobs that would be lost through the centralisation and simplification described above.

How long does it take for the measure to take an effect?

Once the measures are implemented, there will be a corresponding reduction in annual carbon dioxide emissions.

References to other measures

- unconditional basic income

- reduction of working hours

Problems of social, global and generational justice

Job cuts could be perceived as unfair, especially in the transition phase, if social security through a basic income has not yet been introduced and our current value system is not reconsidered. (--> Should the goal really be, as before, that everyone has work? Or should it not rather be that as little work as possible be required?)

Older people might have problems in the conversion to home office, because this requires relearning.

Home-office work could lead to increased social isolation and physical inactivity of people. On the other hand, increased leisure time could counteract this. Social isolation would be less important if municipal work spaces were created close to home.

With home office work, it is difficult to separate professional and private life, which is why there is an increased risk of burnout. This should be counteracted by reducing working hours.

The creative exchange between employees and between boss and employees is less direct in home office work. In jobs where this is necessary, occasional meetings should be ensured to facilitate this exchange.

Creating the spatial conditions for home office could be difficult for some people in view of the housing situation - in this case the creation of communal working spaces would be more sensible instead. On the other hand, by closing down offices that would then no longer be needed, spatial resources would be available that could be converted into living space, which could ease the situation.

The abolition of private and statutory health insurance could be perceived within individual population groups as a restriction of the freedom of choice.

Further literature, sources

ADAC Berufspendler-Report 2017

Pendleratlas der Bundesagentur für Arbeit (Juni 2018)

FAZ: "Sieben Tage unterwegs" (26.04.2019)