GUADEC 2024

Goodness, it’s been a long time since I blogged. I’ve got a lot of updates to give, but perhaps let’s keep this post short, and dedicated to publishing the details of the two talks I gave at GUADEC this year, for posterity. I plan to do some more blog posts in the near future with more updates from the past year and more details of the features I’ve been working on.

An update on parental controls and digital wellbeing for GNOME 47

This was my first talk at GUADEC this year, serving as a little teaser of the work I’ve been doing recently (sponsored by Endless Network via the GNOME Foundation) to add features to parental controls and digital wellbeing.

Thank you to Allan Day for fitting in work on the design for digital wellbeing this cycle, to Florian Müllner and Felipe Borges for reviewing all the code I’ve thrown at them, and to Dylan McCall for feedback on earlier versions of break reminders.

Here’s the recording, the slides, slide notes and source.

Somewhat merging gobject-introspection into GLib

This was the second talk, and a companion to Emmanuele’s talk about changes in introspection in GNOME 46. It gives an overview of how we’ve merged half of gobject-introspection into GLib recently, and what this means for app authors (basically nothing), binding developers (something, on a timeline of your choosing) and distributions (some packaging rework, for the GLib 2.78 and 2.80 releases).

Thank you to Emmanuele for spearheading this work in GLib and doing the gobject-introspection side of it, and the many GLib and gobject-introspection contributors for helping us stabilise this (in particular with build system improvements) after it landed.

Here’s the recording, the slides, slide notes and source.

GUADEC 2023

I attended GUADEC 2023 this year in-person in Rīga. It was nice to be able to see more people in person than last year’s mini-GUADEC in Berlin, and nice to be able to travel overland/oversea to Rīga, avoiding flights and the associated huge carbon emissions. Thank you to the GNOME Foundation and my employer, Endless, for covering the travel.
And a big thank you to the local event organising team, the AV team, the volunteers and the Foundation staff for making it all happen.

The quality of the talks this year was really high. I don’t think there was a single talk slot I skipped. As a result, I didn’t get much hacking done! But there were good hallway conversations and catch ups.

I gave two talks, one on some simple improvements people can make to their apps to reduce internet data use and power use when doing so would be beneficial to the user (when on a metered network or in power-saver mode).
The aim was to remind people how easy it is to do this, and provide some examples of how different apps present these states/events in the UI, since the best way to do that can differ between apps.

You can find the slides to that talk here (notes here), and a video of it is on YouTube.

The talk has resulted in three GNOME initiatives. Each corresponds to a different state your app can pay attention to — some apps should pay attention to all of them, some apps only some of them. Please take 10 minutes to
check your app against the initiatives and make updates if necessary. I’m in the gnome-hackers and gnome-circle Matrix rooms if you have any questions about them.

My second talk was an overview of work I’ve been doing on-and-off over the past couple of years (based on work by others) to allow apps to save and restore their state when the user logs out or shuts down the computer. The idea is that the user can restore
the set of apps they were using, in the state and configuration they were left in, when next starting the computer or logging in. It’s a big project, and there’s a long way to go, but it felt like the right time to present what
we’ve got so far, let more people know how the project is structured, and get feedback from toolkit developers and app authors about the whole idea.

You can find the slides to that talk here (notes here), and a video of it is also on YouTube.

Thankfully there was 5 minutes for questions at the end of the talk, and people used them well to raise some good points and ask some good questions. I’m still in the process of factoring all that feedback into the plan, but
should hopefully have an update to give on the project in a future blog post soon.

Interesting talks I attended included Peter Hutterer’s talk about sending and capturing input in Wayland, which I think distilled his blogposts about the topic very clearly.
Allan Day’s talk about communication, which was an excellent summary of a rather long list of books on the subject, and it was very clearly presented. I feel like I could do with a cheatsheet list of his recommendations to stick next to my computer sometimes.
Evan Welsh, Philip Chimento, Nasah Kuma and Sonny Piers’s talks about JavaScript, TypeScript and the latest changes in GJS. These provided a good update on a lot that has been happening in GJS, a useful overview of TypeScript, and were really clearly presented.
Jussi Pakkanen’s talk about circles, or was it about settings? It was a good example of a lightning talk which draws you in then spins you around.

In the hallway track, I had some interesting chats with Bartłomiej about the infrastructure of ODRS, which is used to provide ratings/review data to gnome-software.
I also had some positive conversation with Cassidy about plans for GUADEC 2024 in Denver.
And at the event dinner, a really energising chat with Scott about canyoning, hiking, skiing and caving in the US and the UK.

Carbon emissions analysis of GUADEC 2022

I’ve just finished estimating the carbon emissions from GUADEC 2022, and have a few interesting highlights from the report. The report is based on data collected from the streaming servers, registration data, and the post-conference survey.

  • Having an online component to the conference increased the audience by a factor of 10: there were around 120 in-person attendees in Mexico, but there were an average of 1300 people using Big Blue Button.
  • The carbon emissions from providing the remote infrastructure were around 2.8tCO2e, or about 2kgCO2e per remote attendee.
  • Having a remote attendance party in Berlin allowed around one tenth of the attendees to attend with a factor of 10 lower transport emissions than those who attended in-person in Mexico. The average transport emissions for those who went to Berlin were 88kgCO2e, whereas they were around 1tCO2e for those going to Mexico.
  • For context, the annual emissions per person can be at most 2.3tCO2e by 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5C by the end of the century. That covers all food, travel, heating, purchases, etc. So travel to Mexico was 40% of the average attendee’s annual target.
  • Half of the in-person attendees travelled from within Mexico, which will have skewed the mean transport emissions downwards. The distribution is more likely bimodal between around 50kgCO2e for locals and more like 2-3tCO2e for those coming from outside Mexico.
  • As I wrote at the time, the remote attendance party was fun to attend and felt like it worked as a way to attend the conference (there were no A/V problems, we had some nice local socials, etc.). I would do it again.
  • The post-conference survey had a low response rate of about 19% of registered attendees, which made some of this analysis hard. Please always fill in the post-conference survey! It doesn’t take long, and aside from any of this analysis, it helps the organisers plan conferences better in future.
  • Many thanks to Kristi, Caroline and Bartłomiej for collecting the data needed for this analysis.
  • If anyone spots problems in the analysis please say! This is not the kind of thing I practice doing very often and I’ve had to make a number of assumptions.

Other conferences

A post-conference survey has been done for other big GNOME events, such as GNOME.Asia and LAS. Would anyone be interested in doing a similar analysis for those events? Perhaps we can get a semi-automated pipeline in place for it.

Getting from the UK to Riga for GUADEC 2023

I’ve just booked travel for getting to Riga, Latvia for GUADEC 2023, and I thought I’d quickly write up my travel plans in case it saves someone else some time in planning travel.

I am not flying, because planes are too polluting. Instead, I am taking the train to Lübeck in Germany, then an overnight ferry to Liepāja, and then a bus the following morning to Riga. It’s a bit slower, but means it’s a bit easier to get some hacking done, stretch my legs and move around, and not fund fossil fuel companies as much. I’ll get enough stopover time in Köln, Hamburg and Lübeck to quickly look round, and a night in Liepāja to see it.

Overall the travel time is just over 2 days, with half of that spent on trains, and half on a ferry. By comparison, a flight is about 7 hours (5 hours flying, 2 hours faffing in airports) plus travel time to the airport.

The carbon emissions (140kgCO2e return) are roughly a quarter of those from flying (520kgCO2e), and interestingly a significant part of those emissions (46kgCO2e) is the 3 hour bus journey to get from Liepāja to Riga, though that’s quite sensitive to the occupancy level of the bus.

The financial cost (£800 return) is about two times that of flying (£380), though I have not factored in the costs of getting to/from airports and have not fully explored the hidden fees for baggage and other essentials so the ratio might be a little lower. This is quite upsetting. A disproportionate part of the cost (£178 return) is the Eurostar, because it’s oversubscribed and I missed the early ticket releases due to waiting for grant approval. Perhaps I should not wait next time.

The journey

On 2023-07-22:

  • Eurostar from London to Brussels-Midi, departing 07:04
  • Train from Brussels-Midi to Lübeck-Travemünde Skandinavienkai, departing 10:25 (ICE 15, ICE 200, RE 11428, RB 11528)
  • Nice walk from there to the ferry terminal for half an hour
  • Overnight ferry from Lübeck/Travemünde to Liepāja, departing 23:30

On 2023-07-23: On the ferry all day, then stay overnight in Liepāja

On 2023-07-24: Bus from Liepāja to Riga, departing early morning

Alternatives

I strongly looked at taking the train from Hamburg to Stockholm, and then the ferry from there to Ventspils. Unfortunately, it has limited capacity and there is track maintenance planned for around my travel dates, so I could not get suitable tickets. It would have made the timings a little more convenient overall, for about the same overall carbon emissions and cost.

Join me

If anybody else is going overland from the UK or far-western Europe, this is hopefully a sensible route for you to take, and it would be lovely if you wanted to join me. I will be arriving 2 days early for GUADEC (as we’re having an Endless OS Foundation meetup), but if you wanted to do the same journey 1 or 2 days later then it shouldn’t differ significantly. In any case, I can put you in touch with others making this journey if you want.

Tip for debugging refcounting issues: change ref calls to copy

Over the last couple of days I’ve been looking at a refcounting issue in GLib’s D-Bus implementation.

As with many things in GLib, the allocations in this code use refcounting, rather than new/free, to manage object lifecycles. This makes it quite hard to debug lifecycle issues, because the location of a bug (a ref or unref call which isn’t correct) can be quite far removed (in time and code) from where the effects of that bug become visible. This is because the effects of refcounting problems only become visible when an object’s refcount reaches zero, or when the program ends and its refcount still hasn’t reached zero.

While debugging this code, I tried an approach I haven’t before: changing some of the ref calls on the buggy object to be copy calls instead. (Specifically, changing g_object_ref() to g_dbus_message_copy().) That split up the lifecycle of the object into smaller pieces, narrowing down the sets of ref/unref calls which could be buggy. Ultimately, this allowed me to find some bugs in the code, and hopefully those are the bugs causing the refcounting issue. Since the issue is intermittent, it’s a bit hard to be sure.

This debugging approach was possible in this case because the object I was debugging is immutable, so passing around copies of it doesn’t affect the behaviour of other bits of code vs passing around the original. Hence this approach is only applicable in some situations. But it’s another good reason why using immutable objects is quite helpful when writing code, and it’s certainly an approach I’m going to be using again when I can.

Garden work

Another post which is not about software! I’ve recently, finally, finished reworking my garden, and here’s a brief writeup of what happened. It includes some ideas for low-embodied energy and ecologically friendly garden design.

The original garden

This house is on a hill. The original garden was a set of three concrete slabbed terraces going down the hill, with some wooden decking on the top terrace. There was a block paved path ramping down the garden, separating the decking from a sloping grass lawn. There were very few plants which weren’t grass or a few pots.

Problems with this included:

  • Decking was rotten
  • Lower terrace served no purpose and was devoid of life
  • There was very little biodiversity in the garden, and no space to grow anything
  • Steps in the path had been installed with uneven heights and that was surprisingly annoying

The plan

  • Get rid of the decking because it’s rotten
  • Remove the terraces because they’re just concrete, and replace them with more soil and planting area
  • Make the subdivisions of the garden less rectilinear so it feels a bit less brutal
  • Lower some areas of the terraces a bit to get a bit more privacy (the garden is overlooked)
  • Severely reduce the grass lawn area, because it requires frequent mowing and is not very ecologically diverse
  • Rebuild the path to make it curvy and add some planting area in a sunny spot by it
  • Keep the garden adaptable and don’t make anything too permanent (by cementing it in place) — I, or others, may want to rearrange things in future

Executing the plan

I started on this in 2019. Progress was slow at first, because a large part of the plan involved digging out the terraces, and there was some question about whether this would undermine the foundations of the house. That could cause the house to fall down. That would be bad.

I talked to a structural engineer, and he specified a retaining wall system I could install, which would retain the house wall and foundations, act as a raised bed, and is made out of wood so would have low embodied carbon compared to a (more standard) masonry wall (which is about 40kgCO2e/m2, see table 11 here). There was various other research and considerations about adjoining property, safety, drainage, appearance of the materials as they age, and suitability for DIY which fed into this decision. I can go into the details if anyone’s interested (get in touch if so).

What followed was about 10 months of intermittent work on it, removing the old terraces, digging a pond and sowing some wildflowers, installing the new retaining wall, fixing drainage through the clay, bringing in soil, laying a clover lawn, and rebuilding the path.

The result

I’m pretty pleased with the result. There are a few decisions in particular which I’m quite pleased worked out, as they’re not a common approach in the UK and were a bit of a gamble:

  • Clover patio. Rather than a paved patio area (as is common here), I planted clover seed on a thin bed of soil with a weed control membrane beneath. This has a significantly lower embodied carbon than paving (around 100-200kgCO2e/tonne less, if imported natural stone was used, which is the standard in the UK at the moment), and drains better, so it doesn’t contribute to flash flooding runoff. With rain becoming less frequent but more intense in the UK, runoff is going to become more of a problem. My full analysis of the options is here. I chose clover for the planting because it doesn’t require mowing, and should stay short enough to sit on. As per table 1 of this paper, I might adjust the planting in future to include other non-grass species.
  • Wooden retaining wall. I used Woodblocx, and it worked out great. It didn’t require any cementatious materials (which have high embodied carbon), just a compacted type 2 sub-base and their wooden blocks. It’s repairable, and recyclable at end of life (in about 25 years).
  • Wood chip path. This was easy to install (wood chips over a weed control membrane), doesn’t contribute to flash flooding runoff like paved paths do, and is a good environment for various insects which like damp and dark places. It will need topping up with more wood chips every few years, but no other maintenance. The path edging is made from some of the old decking planks from the original garden (the ones which weren’t rotten).
  • Water butt stands. These are all made from bits of old decking or Woodblocx offcuts, and make the water butts easier to use by bringing the tap to a more reachable level. I also made a workbench out of old decking planks.

Subjectively, now the garden’s been basically finished for a year (I finished the final few bits of it the other day), I’ve seen more insects living in it, and birds feeding on them, than I did before. Yay!

Mini-GUADEC 2022 Berlin: retrospective

I’m really pleased with how the mini-GUADEC in Berlin turned out. We had a really productive conference, with various collaborations speeding up progress on Files, display colour handling, Shell, adaptive apps, and a host of other things. We watched and gave talks, and that seemed to work really well. The conference ran from 15:00 to 22:00 in Berlin time, and breaks in the schedule matched when people got hungry in Berlin, so I’d say the timings worked nicely. It helped to be in a city where things are open late.

c-base provided us with a cool inside space, a nice outdoor seating area next to the river, reliable internet, quality A/V equipment and support for using it, and a big beamer for watching talks. They also had a bar open later in the day, and there were several food options nearby.

At least from our end, GUADEC 2022 managed to be an effective hybrid conference. Hopefully people in Guadalajara had a similarly good experience?

Tobias and I spent a productive half a day working through a load of UI papercuts in GNOME Software, closing a number of open issues, including some where we’d failed to make progress for months. The benefits of in-person discussion!

Sadly despite organising the mini-GUADEC, Sonny couldn’t join us due to catching COVID. So far it looks like others avoided getting ill.

Travel

Allan wrote up how he got to Berlin, for general reference and posterity, so I should do the same.

I took the train from north-west England to London one evening and stayed the night with friends in London. This would normally have worked fine, but that was the second-hottest day of the heatwave, and the UK’s rails aren’t designed for air temperatures above 30°C. So the train was 2.5 hours delayed. Thankfully I had time in the plan to accommodate this.

The following morning, I took the 09:01 Eurostar to Brussels, and then an ICE at 14:25 to Berlin (via Köln). This worked well — rails on the continent are designed for higher temperatures than those in the UK.

The journey was the same in reverse, leaving Berlin at 08:34 in time for a 18:52 Eurostar. It should have been possible to then get the last train from London to the north-west of England on the same day, but in the end I changed plans and visited friends near London for the weekend.

I took 2 litres of water with me each way, and grabbed some food beforehand and at Köln, rather than trying to get food on the train. This worked well.

Within Berlin, I used a single 9EUR monatskarte for all travel. This is an amazing policy by the German government, and subjectively it seemed like it was being widely used. It would be interesting to see how it has affected car usage vs public transport usage over several months.

Climate

Overall, I estimate the return train trip to Berlin emitted 52kgCO2e, compared to 2610kgCO2e from flying Manchester to Guadalajara (via Houston). That’s an impact 50× lower. 52kgCO2e is about the same emissions as 2 weeks of a vegetarian diet; 2610kgCO2e is about the same as an entire year of eating a meat-heavy diet.

(Train emissions calculated one-way as 14.8kgCO2e to London, 4.3kgCO2e to Brussels, 6.5kgCO2e to Berlin.)

Tobias gave an impactful talk on climate action, and one of his key points was that significant change can now only happen as a result of government policy changes. Individual consumer choices can’t easily bring about the systemic change needed to prevent new oil and coal extraction, trigger modal shift in transport use, or rethink land allocation to provide sufficient food while allowing rewilding.

That’s very true. One of the exceptions, though, is flying: the choices each of the ~20 people at mini-GUADEC made resulted in not emitting up to 50 tonnes of CO2e in flights. That’s because flights each have a significant emissions cost, and are largely avoidable. (Doing emissions calculations for counterfactuals is a slippery business, but hopefully the 50 tonne figure is illustrative even if it can’t be precise.)

So it’s pretty excellent that the GNOME community supports satellite conferences, and I strongly hope this is something which we can continue to do for our big conferences in future.

Tourism

After the conference, I had a few days in Berlin. On the recommendation of Zeeshan, I spent a day in the Berlin technical museum, and another day exploring several of the palaces at Potsdam.

It’s easy to spend an entire day at the technical museum. One of the train sheds was closed while I was there, which is a shame, but at least that freed up a few hours which I could spend looking at the printing and the jewellery making exhibits.

One of the nice things about the technical museum is that their displays of old machinery are largely functional: they regularly run demonstrations of entire paper making processes or linotype printing using the original machinery. In most other technical museums I’ve been to, the functioning equipment is limited to a steam engine or two and everything else is a static display.

The palaces in Potsdam were impressive, and look like a maintenance nightmare. In particular, the Grotto Hall in the Neues Palais was one of the most fantastical rooms I’ve ever seen. It’s quite a ridiculous display of wealth from the 18th century. The whole of Sanssouci Park made another nice day out, though taking a picnic would have been a good idea.

Thanks!

Thanks again to everyone who organised GUADEC in Guadalajara, Sonny and Tobias for organising the mini-GUADEC, the people at c-base for hosting us and providing A/V support, and the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring several of us to go to mini-GUADEC.

Sponsored by GNOME Foundation

Looking at project resource use and CI pipelines in GitLab

While at GUADEC I finished a small script which uses the GitLab API to estimate the resource use of a project on GitLab. It looks at the CI pipeline job durations and artifact storage for the project and its forks over a given period, and totals things.

You might want to run it on your project!

It gives output something like the following:

Between 2022-06-23 00:00:00+00:00 and 2022-07-23 00:00:00+00:00, GNOME/glib and its 20 forks used:

  • 4592 CI jobs, totalling 17125 minutes (duration minimum 0.0, median 2.3, maximum 65.0)
  • Total energy use: 32.54kWh
  • Total artifact storage: 4426 MB (minimum 0.0, median 0.2, maximum 20.9)

This is useful for giving a rough look at the CI resources used by a project, which could be useful for noticing low-hanging fruit for speeding things up or reducing resource waste.

What can I do with this information?

If total pipeline durations are long, either reduce the number of pipeline jobs or speed them up. Speeding them up almost always has no downsides. Reducing the number of jobs is a tradeoff between convenience of development and resource usage. Two ideas for reducing the number of jobs are to make some jobs manual-only, if they are very unlikely to find problems. Or run them on a schedule rather than on every commit, if it’s OK for them to catch problems up to a week after they’re introduced.

If total artifact storage use is high, store fewer artifacts, or expire them after a week (or so). They are likely not so useful after that point anyway.

If artifacts are being used to cache build dependencies, then consider moving those dependencies into a pre-built container image instead. It may be cached better between CI runners.

This script is rubbish, how do I improve it?

Merge requests welcome on https://gitlab.gnome.org/pwithnall/gitlab-stats, or perhaps you’d like to integrate it into cauldron.io so that the data could be visualised over time? The same query code should work for all GitLab instances, not just GNOME’s.

How does it work?

It queries the GitLab API in a few ways, and then applies a very simple model to the results.

It can take a while to run when querying for large projects or for periods of over a couple of weeks, as it needs to make a REST request for each CI job individually.

Mini-GUADEC 2022 in Berlin

GUADEC 2022 has been happening in person for the first time in two years, in Guadalajara. Twenty of us in Europe met up in Berlin for a mini-GUADEC, to attend the main conference remotely. There have been several talks given from here using the nice A/V setup in c-base, who are hosting us.

I gave my talk this afternoon, on the threading rework which is ongoing in gnome-software. The slides are here, the notes are here (source is here), and the recording should be available soon on the GUADEC YouTube channel.

As part of the question and answer session afterwards, it was suggested that it might be helpful to write a blog post about strategies for making async code in C more readable. I’ll try and write something about that soon.

Thanks to the GUADEC organising team for hosting the conference and integrating remote participation so well, to Sonny and Tobias for organising the Berlin mini-GUADEC, and to the c-base technical people for setting things up nicely here.

How your organisation’s travel policy can impact the environment

Following on from updating our equipment policy, we’ve recently also updated our travel policy at the Endless OS Foundation. A major part of this update was to introduce consideration of carbon emissions into the decision making for when and how to travel. I’d like to share what we came up with, as it should be broadly applicable to many other technology organisations, and I’m quite excited that people across the foundation worked to make these changes happen.

Why is this important?

For a technology company or organisation, travel is likely to be the first or second largest cause of emissions from the organisation. The obvious example in free software circles is the emissions from taking a flight to go to a conference, but actually in many cases the annual emissions from commuting to an office by car are comparable. Both can be reduced through an organisation’s policies.

In Endless’ case, the company is almost entirely remote and so commuting is not a significant cause of emissions. Pre-pandemic, air travel caused a bit under a third of the organisation’s emissions. So if there are things we can do to reduce our organisation’s air travel, that would make a significant difference to our overall emissions.

On an individual level, one return transatlantic flight (1.6tCO2e, which is 1.6 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, the unit of global warming potential) is more than half of someone’s annual target footprint which is 2.8tCO2e for 2030. So not taking a flight is one of the most impactful single actions you can take.

Similarly, commuting 10 miles a day by petrol car, for 227 working days per year, causes annual emissions of about 0.55tCO2e, which is also a significant proportion of a personal footprint when the aim is to limit global warming to 1.5°C. An organisation’s policies and incentives can impact people’s commuting decisions.

Once the emissions from a journey have been made, they can’t be un-made anywhere near as easily or quickly. Reducing carbon emissions now is more impactful than reducing them later.

How did we change the policy?

Previously, Endless’ travel policy was almost entirely focused around minimising financial cost by only allowing employees to choose the cheapest option for a particular travel plan. It had detailed sections on how to minimise cost for flights and private car use, and didn’t really consider other modes of transport.

In the updated policy, financial cost is still a big consideration, but it’s balanced against environmental cost. I’ve included some excerpts from the policy at the bottom of this post, which could be used as the basis for updating your policy.

Due to COVID, not much travel has happened since putting the policy in place, so I can’t share any comparisons of cost and environmental impact before and after applying the policy. The intention is that reducing the number of journeys made will balance slightly increased costs for taking lower-carbon transport modes on other journeys.

The main changes we made to it are:

  • Organise the policy so that it’s written in decision making order: sections cover necessity of travel, then travel planning and approval, then accommodation, then expenses.
  • Critically, the first step in the decision making process is “do you need to travel and what are the alternatives?”. If it’s decided that travel is needed, the next step is to look at how that trip could be combined with other useful activities (meetings or holiday) to amortise the impact of the travel.
  • We give an explicit priority order of modes of travel to choose:
    1. Rail (most preferred)
    2. Shared ground transport (coach/bus, shared taxi)
    3. Private ground transport (taxi, car rental, use of own vehicle)
    4. Air (least preferable)
  • And, following that, a series of rules for how to choose the mode of transport, which gives some guidance about how to balance environmental and financial cost (and other factors):

You should explore travel options in that order, only moving to the next option if any of the following conditions are true:

  • No such option exists for the journey in question
    • e.g. there is no rail/ground link between London and San Francisco
  • This mode of travel, or the duration of time spent traveling via such means, is regarded as unsafe or excessively uncomfortable at that location
    • For example, buses/coaches are considered to be uncomfortable or unsafe in certain countries/regions.
  • The journey is over 6 hours, and the following option reduces the journey time by 2× (or more)
    • We have a duty to protect company time, so you may (e.g.) opt for flying in cases where the travel time is significantly reduced.
    • Even if there is the opportunity for significant time savings, you are encouraged to consider the possibility of working while on the train, even if it works out to be a longer journey.
  • The cost is considered unreasonably/unexpectedly high, but the following option brings expenses within usual norms
    • The regular pricing of the mode of transport can be considered against the distance traveled. If disproportionately high, move onto other options.

In summary, we prefer rail and ground transportation to favor low-emissions, even if they are not the cheapest options. However, we also consider efficient use of company time, comfort, safety, and protecting ourselves from unreasonably high expenditure. You should explore all these options and considerations and discuss with your manager to make the final decision.

Your turn

I’d be interested to know whether others have similar travel policies, or have better or different ideas — or if you make changes to your travel policy as a result of reading this.

Policy excerpt