The benefits of promoting active and sustainable travel
Fostering a healthier and greener workplace benefits organisations and their employees, as well as the planet.
Promoting active and sustainable travel in the workplace is a good return on investment for the employer and its workforce. Even small changes can help organisations and individuals save money.
For example, enabling short trips for business travel to be made by bike can save businesses more than half on car mileage. And by offering a cycle to work scheme, both the employee and the employer can make savings through salary sacrifice.
Enabling employees to commute actively or by public or shared transport also reduces the demand for parking spaces at a workplace. The costs of maintaining car parking spaces are high. By taking away some spaces, employers can put in improved cycle storage, and it also gives the chance for more green spaces to flourish.
Improving the facilities (e.g. cycle storage, showers) helps to encourage cycling to work, enabling employees to save money they would usually spend on commuting by car or public transport. And it often saves them time too.
Having more active employees leads to increased productivity, higher morale, and lower turnover for the employer. Research has shown that people who are physically active take 27% less sick days each year. Employees who cycle regularly take 1.3 fewer sick days, which is worth an estimated £128 million to the UK economy.
Improved staff health and wellbeing
The most common causes of sickness absence in Scotland are back pain, musculoskeletal disorders and mental health problems including depression, anxiety and stress. Being active during the working day can benefit both physical and mental health, and reduce absenteeism.
Research conducted by the University of Glasgow shows that commuting actively can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and overall mortality.
Taking public transport also allows for health benefits, often involving a short journey at either end ideal for walking or cycling.
Valuing staff’s health and wellbeing results in a healthier, more content, engaged and motivated workforce. This is great for retaining existing employees and makes organisations more attractive to potential new recruits.
Commuting by walking, cycling, public transport or shared transport can also lead to colleagues travelling together, providing more opportunities for socialising and building employee camaraderie.
Encouraging active and sustainable travel means less transport emissions. Creating working environments and cultures that support active and sustainable modes of transport can drastically reduce an organisation’s carbon footprint, by bringing down indirect emissions under what is known as ‘Scope 3‘.
Domestic transport is currently Scotland’s largest source of CO2 emissions at over 25%. Sustainable travel should therefore be at the heart of any business’ net zero plan.
Walking, wheeling, and cycling are already zero emission modes and there’s no need to wait for technological developments to start using them.
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