Tips on how to create a Bike To Work Wellness Culture at your Workplace
Creating a culture of wellness at the workplace is an initiative many employers are encouraging to alleviate employee stress. Encouraging active commuting, such as biking to work, is one way to help employees get the needed exercise into their daily schedule.
One study showed that those who regularly exercised had fewer instances of common respiratory illnesses and took fewer sick days . Exercise helps increase energy levels, improve alertness and concentration, and can create a positive state of mind caused by endorphins that our bodies release during exercise.
Besides the physical and mental health benefits, cycling to work is often less expensive. Once you purchase your bicycle and gear, it will last a long time before you should have to replace it. The cost of regular maintenance to a bicycle doesn’t compare to the cost of commuting by car (gas, parking, etc.). If you live and work downtown, you might even be able to get rid of your car altogether that will help save even more money. Beyond saving money, you can also save time. If you usually exercise after or before work, you can now cross that off your list of things you have to do. If your office is downtown Toronto or a similar busy city, you might even be able to save time not being stuck in a gridlock during rush hour.
Think about the environmental benefits of riding your bike to work. In 2010, the transport sector showed contributing to 22% of the global CO2 emissions worldwide with expectations to increase substantially over the next few years. More people are choosing their bike over their car when commuting can help reduce GHG emissions, reduce congestion, and improve air and noise quality.
Even in the cold and snowy northern climate such as we have here in Canada, cycling is possible 12 months of the year with the right equipment and the right support from employers. Designing an office space that is bike friendly is very important to encourage more employees to bike to work.
Designing Offices for Cycling to Work
An enclosed, secure bike storage area is mandatory and needs to have a secure lock up for individual bikes, with proper lighting for employee safety. Ideally the storage area should be inside the office building protected from the weather. Many people invest a lot of money in their bicycles, so having the confidence their bike will be safe and secure, will encourage them to ride their bikes to work.
Showers, Change Rooms & Lockers
The one great thing about cycling to work is that you can work up a sweat! The one bad thing about cycling to work is that you work up a sweat. Designing an office with a shower and change room area for employees will make it easier for employees to freshen up and change their clothes before starting their work day. Keeping a fresh and hygienic workspace not only helps people concentrate, but keeps people healthy. In an open office environment where people share work areas, and very few people have a desk to store their personal items, having a locker area for employees who want to bike to work is essential. Unlike driving a car, where there is ample space to store extra items in the trunk, bicycles have minimal storage capabilities.
Kitchen / Snack Area
Cycling to work will save on gas and parking, but depending on how far people have to commute, they may find their food bill increases. Their body is the engine, and so their metabolism will increase. Giving employees an area to keep food from home, or purchase healthy food during the day, is important as they will need to replenish fuel stores. Having a kitchen area within the office space makes it readily available throughout the day. Include appliances to store food, fresh water for drinking, a place to boil water for tea, and comfortable chairs and tables.
Quiet Lounge Areas
Designing a quiet area at your office that has comfortable lounge furniture, offers active people a time to take a break throughout the day. Cycling to work offers exercise to promote a healthy and productive workplace, but with this comes even a greater need for rest. Taking a power nap / rest can help recharge the body and the mind for continued productivity.
Promote cycling as part of your workplace culture
If sustainability, health and wellness are already part of your work culture, including cycling as a positive form of commuting to work should be easy.
- Create a program that offers points or ‘bragging rights’ for those who choose to commute to work. It can be on an intranet, on an office bulletin board, or in the way of incentive for other office perks.
- Set up an account with a car share program where employees can rent a vehicle if they have to go to a meeting across town.
- Offer the purchase of a bicycle as part of your health insurance program.
- Speak with a local bike shop to see if they can offer a discount for your employees who are part of the program.
Sources & Related Articles
-  Science Says Regular Exercise and Meditation Reduces Sick Days
- Understanding Anxiety – www.adaa.org
- Cycling Climate Finance Briefing (PDF) – www.climatefocus.com
- Exercise and Depression – www.webmd.com