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A Healthy Staff = A Healthy Business

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Healthy Staff = A Healthy Business

Most people dread moving offices. But, when ShoreTel recently shifted to new premises in Melbourne, it turned out to be one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

Sure, it’s nice to be in a new space with room to grow. But the biggest benefit is actually something we don’t have so much of – car parking spaces!

Less is more

When we were negotiating the new lease, the landlord wanted to know how many parking spots we needed. In fact, they were a little worried because they could only offer us 15.

They were really surprised when I told them 15 was way too many. My proposal was: “How about if we only take eight? Can we get a break on the rent?”

There was more to that offer than saving money. According to a survey by the UK transport charity, Sustrans, people who cycle to work take half as many sick days as their colleagues who drive or take public transport.

That’s good news for companies, and better news for their employees and customers. So, instead of paying for so many parking spaces, ShoreTel has rolled out a “Cycle-to-Work” programme.

We are offering every Melbourne employee AU$1,000 to buy the bicycle of their choice and ride it to work instead of driving. Unfortunately, I already have a bike – a very nice triathlon model that I rode in the recent IRONMAN 70.3 Busselton in Australia. But, two of our staff who weren’t bike enthusiasts jumped at the chance on day one.

They are now riding their machines to and from the office. And the bike fever is spreading fast.

Improving energy efficiency

Taking a car off the road for a day can be a significant plus for the environment because a bicycle is the most energy efficient way to get people from A to B that has been invented.

Up to 99% of the energy a bike rider exerts on the pedals is transmitted to the wheels. By comparison, only about 30% of the energy from the fuel that goes into the tank is used to move the car – the rest is wasted.

How does that stack up in practice? Well, a cyclist can travel about three miles (5 km) on the energy of just one egg for breakfast. A car that gets 12.5 miles per gallon (~31,000 calories per gallon) burns up the equivalent of 93 (7.75 dozen) eggs in fuel to take a single person the same three miles.

Even if you drive an electric car, once you factor in the carbon produced generating the power to charge the battery, a bicycle is still a better, lower emission solution.

Infrastructure the key to success

Cycle programmes are a great idea all round. Employers who encourage cycling can increase their profitability because cyclists tend to be healthier than sedentary colleagues.

But, whether you are talking about cycling or communications, infrastructure is probably the most important success factor. That Sustrans survey I mentioned found that 40% of people that didn’t cycle to work would if they had better facilities.

Our new office is set up to encourage people to ride, with showers, lockers and a safe place to park their bikes – we see no inconvenience in them being parked in the office itself. And, of course, it also has a pretty good unified communications solution to make keeping in touch with colleagues and customers brilliantly simple.

 frederic= Frederic Gillant joined ShoreTel in 2014 as vice president and managing director for Asia Pacific. Based in Singapore, Gillant leads ShoreTel’s go-to-market strategy across Asia Pacific managing the sales, channels, marketing and sales operations for the region.