Facilitating the transition in, out and sometimes within our work days, the way in which we commute can have a substantial impact on our overall wellbeing and performance.
Prior to covid-19 restrictions, over 9 million Australian and 27 million English workers commuted to and from work, the majority of which drove. However, a recent Australian study has found that driving is the most stressful form of commuting, followed by public transport. This study also revealed that short-distance and active travel (such as walking and cycling) commuters reported they were relaxed, calm, enthusiastic, and satisfied with their commuting trips, in addition to being more productive in the workplace.
A growing number of studies build on these recent findings, advising that commuting by car and public transport is perceived as ‘stressful and boring’, in addition to being associated with a number of negative health issues and increases in absenteeism. In contrast, active travel is perceived to be more ‘relaxing and exciting’, positively impacting workplace wellbeing and performance in a number of areas, includes:
- Improved mental health – physical activity reduces stress, depression and anxiety; while increasing overall wellbeing
- Enhanced productivity – physical activity improves motor functions, attention and cognitive speed
- Increased energy – physical activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to our tissues, while also supporting the cardiovascular system
- Improved cognitive function – physical activity increases blood flow to our brain
To support you and your team to thrive, here’s six wellbeing initiatives you can take to promote active travel within your workplace:
· Facilities – having adequate facilities such as secure bike parking, showers, lockers, towels, hair dryers, irons and ironing boards available for your team to easily utilise each day greatly increases the attractiveness of active travel. If these facilities aren’t feasible for your business to provide, is there a neighbouring business that would share facilities with you?
· Maps – providing maps that highlight key walking and riding paths into your workplace, in addition to any other key facilities (like train stations with secure bike parking) make it easier for team members to assess their active travel options, including a split commute in which they may actively travel a portion of the way.
· Active transport heroes – appoint active transport heroes within your workplace and utilise their knowledge and passion to help guide the strategies you take
· Buddy up – team active travel heroes and regular active travel commuters with team members who live in a similar area, opening up the opportunity to ride or walk together. Ride2Work Day, Walktober and Walk to Work Day are all fantastic yearly events to participate in, cultivating interpersonal connection within your workplace.
· Training – lack of confidence and adequate skills are key barriers to riding to work. Providing training opportunities for team members to increase their riding skills, knowledge and confidence make riding all or part of the way to work increasingly more attractive.
· Bike share – if available, having a company bike share membership gives team members the option of riding to meetings that are too far to walk to, as opposed to driving, ride sharing or taking a taxi.
Written by Amanda McMillan, Wellinuex.