I’m on the train back to London after spending the day in Bristol. The journey to get to the Westcountry consisted of cycling from Hackney to Paddington, getting the train to Bristol through a flooded Berkshire, then walking alongside a dual carriageway to my final destination. I don’t really commute, but this trip was enough to give me some time to contemplate its various forms.
Sitting on the train I was reading an article on the New York Times website which made think a little deeper.
The article was about sleeping. The main pillar of the argument centred around the point that the relationship between quality of sleep and economic productivity is massively overlooked.
“There is an odd divide here. Ask why one person had an unproductive day at work, and lack of sleep often seems an obvious answer. But ask why national productivity has fallen, and reduced sleep can appear to be a frivolous answer. Yet what is total output but the sum of all individuals’ work?”
It’s a good point. It also made me think about my own area of expertise. Research has shown that, alongside quality of sleep, a stressful commute is one of relatively few factors that we can never adjust to. If our sleep is regularly disrupted, it has a permanently detrimental effect on our happiness. If we have a stressful commute, the same is true. We simply never adjust in the same way that we would with most things (like a change in our income, for instance).
So the enjoyability of our commute is hugely important. We all know this already as individuals - a bad train or car journey can definitely ruin our day - but do organisations take it seriously enough?
We sell about 35% of our bicycles using cycle to work schemes. These cost companies nothing to sign up for - they actually save the company money. I don’t mean through “potential costs” of things like healthier and more alert employees, though this also true, I mean through the fact that employers who sign up don’t have to pay Employer’s National Insurance.
They also save employees a load of money. You don’t pay tax on the bicycle and what you do pay is split over 12 months and taken out of your salary before your income tax. It saves you 40% on the price, give or take a bit.
I’ve not even touched on the health benefits, the environmental benefits, the increased appeal of your company as a workplace.
So. Seriously. If you’re reading this and your company doesn’t operate one of the schemes - What the fuck? Why not?
It’s really, really easy to sign up to one. From our experience both Bike2Work and Cyclescheme have been a dream to deal with. Don’t sign up to the Halfords (bike2work) one though. They charge us independent retailers significantly more than the other schemes do and are generally a nightmare to deal with.
So if you work for one of these employers who aren’t yet on board, send them a link to Bike2Work or Cyclescheme and tell them to sort their shit out. In the words of Kevin Bacon in that terrible advert - “It’s a no-brainer”