Today is the twelfth national Cycle to Work Day, and is a perfect opportunity to see how the humble bike can energise the workplace. From boosting productivity and morale to gaining eco-friendly credentials, biking to work is a big win for businesses, employees and the planet – here are some of the benefits of cycling to work.
Helps keep sickness at bay
Cycling to and from work is the easiest way to build regular exercise into your day. If you struggle to find the motivation to go to the gym after work, or to leave the house again once you’re home (this is probably most of us), then commuting by bike means it’s job done by dinner time.
A fitter, healthier workforce is a win for business, with fewer days lost to illness. This is backed up by various research showing that employees who practice sports take sick leave significantly less often than their colleagues who don’t. And when they do fall ill, their periods of leave are shorter, especially when their work is sedentary.
Improves focus and morale
Evidence shows that exercising outdoors does more to improve mental wellbeing than indoor workouts. As well as being more enjoyable, exercising in natural environments can lead to greater feelings of revitalisation, increased energy and positive engagement.
Being outdoors is undoubtedly more appealing than being stuck on a crowded bus or train or holed up in a traffic jam. This makes cycling a great way to clear your mind at the end of a busy day, and the aerobic activity helps you feel more alert at the start.
The positive effect of exercise on our cognitive ability is well-recognised. Improved concentration, sharper memory and enhanced creativity could all be brought to the workplace if more of your people are encouraged to commute by bike.
Saves you thousands
Cycle to work regularly and you could save thousands of pounds on fuel and car park charges. In city centres, parking in itself can cost more than £2,000 per year if your employer is unable to provide free spaces for your car.
If this sounds good, don’t forget that you can get big discounts on a new bike and accessories through your company’s ‘cycle to work’ scheme. This is a benefit that many employees now offer, and it allows you to save money and spread the cost of your cycling gear across monthly payments. The money is removed from your gross salary each month, so you save on national insurance and income tax.
Employers win as well, saving up to 13.8 per cent in national insurance contributions for every employee who goes through the scheme. Cycle schemes cost nothing to set up and are easy to arrange – there’s really nothing to lose.
So how can your office become more bike friendly?
- Start by celebrating Cycle to Work Day – offer free breakfasts to those who cycle in, create buddy-up schemes so people can share their routes and support less experienced cyclists, and use #cycletoworkday for people to share the fun and promote the day on social media.
- Provide changing facilities and lockers – exercising in your work clothes is a no-go, so give people somewhere discreet and comfortable to change, with lockers to keep the place tidy. Investing in a place to shower would also be a popular move.
- Promote safety with cycle proficiency training – help people to become more confident on the roads and promote safe practices by offering cycling proficiency courses.
- Keep bikes safe and secure – some offices don’t have public bike racks nearby, so give your cyclists somewhere private and secure to lock their bike for peace of mind.
- Roll out a cycle to work scheme – these are cost-free and easy to set up, allowing both employers and employees to save money on tax.
Lee Hammond is social media and community manager at MHR, as well as a keen cyclist and advocate of bike-friendly policies for employees