National Cycle to Work Day is in its 12th year and it’s 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.
Cycling 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 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.
By structuring your fitness routine around a journey that you have to make anyway, you’re also freeing up time. In fact, your journey to work may well become quicker as you skip the traffic jams and zip through the short cuts that drivers can’t take.
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 .
A hospital in Liverpool even managed to reduce rates of sick leave among its staff by introducing regular on-site fitness classes . There’s no doubt that a healthier workforce is a more productive one.
Exercise improves focus and morale at work
Commuting by bike could significantly lower your risk of stress compared to those who don’t cycle to work, according to a recent scientific study .
Evidence also shows that exercising outdoors does more to improve mental well-being than indoor work-outs. As well as being more enjoyable, exercising in natural environments can lead to ‘greater feelings of revitalisation, increased energy and positive engagement.’ 
Being outdoors and in your own space 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.
Pedal power saves you thousands of pounds
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 over £2,000 per year if your employer is unable to provide free spaces for your car – money that you’d probably much rather spend elsewhere.
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% 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!
Breathe fresher air by cutting your carbon footprint
The ‘green-effect’ of cycling to work is a win for us all, giving us healthier air to breathe and reducing the long-term impact of environmental damage. The UK Government’s Clean Air Strategy suggests that shifting just 10% of journeys from car to bike would reduce air pollution and save 400 productive life years . It’s clear that a cultural shift is needed so that we consider our carbon footprint more in our every day activities, and cycling is one small thing we can all do to make a big difference.
Companies can help to embed an environmentally friendly mindset across their organisation by actively supporting people who want to commute by bike. This makes sense from a business perspective as well as being a socially responsible thing to do. Consumers are now increasingly likely to consider the green credentials of what they’re buying and who they’re buying it from. This will be a key driver of market change over the coming years as we all do our bit to combat climate change.
5 easy ways to make your business bike friendly
- Start 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.
Now you’re ready to reap the rewards of two wheels!
All organisations have a responsibility to improve their green credentials, and boosting productivity should be part of every business plan. Give your people another good reason to get on their bikes by making your company more cycle friendly. You might find that Cycle to Work Day is just the start of a two-wheeled revolution in your workplace!
MHR employees will be undertaking a 250+ mile charity bike ride to raise money for Rainbows Children's Hospice, find out more about the charity bike challenge here.
 Effect of sporting activity on absenteeism in a working population
 Exercise classes help cut NHS staff sickness rates
 The relationship between bicycle commuting and perceived stress: a cross-sectional study
 Science Daily: Benefits of outdoor exercise confirmed
 Harvard Business Review: Regular exercise is part of your job
 DEFRA: Clean Air Strategy 2019