Businesses should promote health and wellbeing within their organisation by encouraging employees to cycle to work, says the British Council for Offices (BCO).

The advice comes in response to a recent study by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), which found that stress in the workplace affects workers’ heart health by leading them to eat poorly and exercise less.

Richard Kauntze, Chief Executive of the BCO, said:

“Cycling to and from the workplace is an efficient way for people to lead an active lifestyle during the working week. While it of course may contribute to improved personal fitness, according to research from the University of East Anglia it also has a positive effect on concentration levels at work. It is therefore in the interests of companies to look at how they can accommodate and encourage people to get on their bikes.”

In order to help meet the needs of cyclists in the workplace, the British Council for Offices’ Guide to Specification, launched late last year, recommends one cycle space per 10 staff and one shower per 100 employees. For a publication which is seen by many as an ‘industry bible’, it’s a timely reflection of the evolving face of travel to and from the office.”

According to the BHF study of 2,096 adults in the UK, 1,834 of whom were employed, nearly half of those who were employed (43%) said their job has caused them to exercise less than they would like, with 41 percent reporting that their work has had a negative impact on their health in the past five years.

Kauntze said:

“In providing facilities to make cycling to work an easy and accessible option for people, businesses can be responsive to the needs of their workforce to help improve their health and wellbeing.”

The BCO has worked with companies to promote cycling initiatives in the workplace and reports organisations recognising the benefits of such action.

Kauntze added:

“For example, The Zig Zag Building in Victoria is designed with occupiers’ wellbeing in mind, housing a cycle park with 187 cycle spaces and basement amenities including 16 showers and a towel service.”

The BCO is an organisation that researches and develops best practice strategies for UK businesses.