A positive cycle: how businesses can encourage an eco-friendly commute

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The publication of the UK’s draft Air Quality plan earlier this month was a reminder that the reduction of carbon emissions currently sits high on Government’s agenda. However, in order for the UK to be truly successful in meeting its ambitious targets, it is essential that businesses recognise their individual responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint and promote an environmentally-friendly culture amongst staff.

As well as implementing an engaging company communications strategy around the benefits of employees cycling, walking or running to work, ensuring that adequate facilities are available for the storage of valuable equipment and post-exercise shower facilities can help to maximise the likelihood of staff opting for greener commuting methods.

In addition to the important role they play in promoting a green workplace culture and enhancing staff wellbeing, businesses also have an obligation to maintain a safe and hygenic working environment for employees. As part of this, and in order to encourage workers to adopt carbon-neutral commuting methods, companies should ensure that adequate facilities are provided for individuals to wash and change on arrival at the office. When planning new washrooms and changing areas, employers should aim to strike a balance between complementing the look of the existing office space with facilities that are spacious, modern and meet the specific needs of their workforce. Choosing fittings and surfaces that are easy to clean and stocking up on high-quality cleaning products will also allow businesses to meet health and safety responsibilities by keeping facilities in a hygenic condition.

Both as a pastime and commuting method, cycling continues to increase in popularity, with people spending ever greater amounts on kit, bikes and other equipment. With such items often amounting to a significant value, staff may be put off from cycling to work unless they have access to suitable storage amenities to keep equipment secure and in a good condition. As well as offering dry, lockable and spatious storage for bikes, employers may also wish to provide indoor lockers so employees can safely stow sports kit, whether cycling, running or walking is their preferred way to get to work.

While adequate access to washing, changing and storage facilities is important when encouraging staff to reduce their carbon emissions, the key to achieving effective take-up is company-wide employee engagement. By developing an internal communications strategy which clearly explains the advantages of reducing carbon emissions as well as emphasising the important role each employee plays, businesses can have a positive influence on staff participation whilst starting to instill green commuting choices within company culture. It should also be remembered that state-of-the-art facilities provide little benefit to an organisation if workers do not know they exist.

By adapting the workplace to the needs of the eco-friendly commuter and making sure they are aware of the facilities available to them, companies can encourage staff to adopt a greener lifestyle which also has a positive impact on their health and wellbeing.

Nigel Crunden is business specialist at business solutions provider Office Depot

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