Healthy Commuting

Are your employees stressed or angry when they get to work because of terrible traffic? Do they struggle to find the time to exercise? If you’ve answered “yes” to either of these questions, maybe it is time to help your employees re-think their commute to work.

The average American spends over 50 minutes getting to and from work every day[1]. There are many ways people get to work: driving, taking public transportation, walking and biking. The last two are considered active commuting and are healthier options for those who live close to where they work. Active commuting that incorporates walking and biking was associated with an 11% reduction in cardiovascular risk[2]. As an employer, you can potentially help your employees to actively commute.

Here are some ways to enable your employees to bike or walk to work:

  • First consider safety. Is your office in an area where it is safe to bike or walk to work? Consider providing maps of local safe walking and biking routes near all of your office locations. Make these maps accessible for your employees.
  • Does your office environment have showers or locker rooms for employees to use after biking, walking, or running to work? If so, find creative ways to make them accessible and inviting so employees feel comfortable using them before starting work.
  • Bike racks. Employees will feel better about biking into work if they know their bike is secured at work.

Is biking or walking to work just not possible for some of your employees? There are still ways that you can improve their commute:

  • If your organization is getting ready to open a new office location or if you are moving your offices, consider the effects of the move on your employees’ commute. Solicit and listen to employee feedback about the move.
  • Many forward-thinking organizations include commuter benefits in their benefits package to allow employees to purchase commuter passes using pre-tax dollars.
  • Organizations can also consider implementing a flex-time policy to allow employees the flexibility of coming into work and leaving work during non-peak traffic hours.
  • Create a commuting challenge that is unique to your organization or join an existing challenge. Green Streets Initiative helps people rethink their commutes through monthly Walk/Ride Days.

Everyone can benefit from these simple strategies above. Your employees will appreciate the extra time and money, as well as reduced levels of stress!

[1] U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2011.

[2] Hamer, M. and Chida, Y. (2008). Active commuting and cardiovascular risk: a meta-analytic review. Preventive Medicine. 46(1):9-13.