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6 Reasons Why Startup Founders Should Encourage Cycling

For all its allure, running a startup is undeniably stressful. As a founder, it’s not unusual to feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, only to file it under ‘weight-lifting’ because who has the time to go to the gym anyway?

Contrary to popular opinion, growing a successful startup is more of a marathon than a 100-metre dash. It’s on you to make sure everyone’s properly outfitted for the long race ahead - both physically and emotionally - or you’ll never make it to the finish line.

But hey, let's leave the motivational sermons to self-proclaimed gurus and the ‘hang in there’ kitty. Instead, here are 6 data-driven reasons why cycling will make your startup a better and happier place to work:

1. Happy commute

Poor employee retention is one of the main culprits of startup failure worldwide. Attracting top talent is no longer enough - you need to actively contribute to their overall happiness and work satisfaction. Enter cycling.

In a comprehensive commuter survey, cyclists expressed the highest levels of satisfaction (57%), and least dissatisfaction (7%) with their morning and afternoon commute.

Why? Well, for one, they don’t get stuck in traffic. As a result, they don’t question their will to live on a daily basis, unlike anyone riding the Tube during rush hour.

They come in on time, feeling refreshed and energized. After a quick shower at the office, your employees are ready to rock! Or roll! Or sit at a computer, looking for an error in a sea of Python code! It’s all the built-up testosterone talking anyway.

2. Stress management

Most startups spend about 80% of their time in survival mode. This typically translates to long hours, short fuses and an all-round swell working environment (swell means toxic, right?).

Regular exercise helps employees relax and unbend, yet they often have neither the time nor the energy to hit the gym after work. If only there was a way to work your body while getting to and from the office. See where this is going?

In another study, 82% of cyclists reported they feel less stressed at work. That means you’re 82% less likely to look for a new CTO after the first one quits to work in a less stressful work environment - like an unregulated lion enclosure, or a BP oil rig.

3. Improved work performance

I’ll let the numbers do the talking here:

Sustrans, a UK charity, released a survey a few years back showing that cycling leads to 4-15% increase in productivity and 27% fewer task errors for physically fit employees.

It’s no surprise that happy, healthy employees perform better. So if you’re the type of startup only concerned with the “bottom line”, this may be what you need to raise the productivity bar. Even this stock photo gets it!

4. Social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is still a dirty word for most startups. There’s an age-old adage that to be socially responsible is to waste money you don’t have. In fact, the exact opposite might well be true.

Embracing the cycling culture means promoting healthy lifestyle choices for your employees. In an era of rapid social awakening, this can be a major asset for any brand.

Your customers will want to associate with your business. Your employees will praise your company’s prudence. With all the recent horror stories about worker treatment worldwide, who doesn’t love a company that puts the office environment and its employees’ well-being first?

5. Attracting talent

Millennials are much more purpose-driven in the workplace than previous generations, according to a prominent Ted speaker Simon Sinek and just about any millennial's Facebook feed.

Like it or not, most folks nowadays want to feel like their work goes beyond stockpiling the fridge and supporting their loved ones. Other than your startup’s vision, your commitment to cycling and an overall worker-oriented culture could well be a deciding factor for many people when choosing to work for you.

Also, people in tech just have a certain penchant for cycling. No one quite knows why. When you talk to young designers or developers, it’s not uncommon that six out of ten will be active cyclists. Two of those six will also categorically deny the existence of other modes of transportation, and own a linen bike basket that they bought on Etsy. Needless to say, they’d rather work in a cycle-friendly facility.

6. Building rapport

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but the way most people bond in UK startups is over good old-fashioned beer. Rather than getting shot at with dye-filled pellets or doing a half-assed scavenger hunt, local pubs have always been the go-to team building venue.

What we’ve learned from Atom42, a London-based digital agency, however, is that people tend to bond equally well - or even better - through cycling. They found that, for the purpose of building rapport, investing in a cycling programme is money much better spent than just getting everyone drunk once a week. I know, I was equally shocked.

Atom42 now organises regular cycling activities for its employees, and with impressive results. Its staff cycles together all year round, and even more employees join over the spring and summer months.

Take action

By now, you're hopefully convinced that you should at least encourage your staff to cycle. So what's next?

London Cycling Campaign is a great place to get more advice on this. Transport for London (TFL) offers all sorts of kits, tips and grants to help get your employees pedaling. The UK government even provides tax incentives to make it affordable for your staff to get new bikes through a cycle-to-work scheme.

Once you incorporate cycling in your work office culture, you'll see the magic happen yourself. And if your bikes are ever in need of repair, remember that we at Honor Cycles bring our bike mechanic service to your workspace, instead of the other way round. And we'll even take active interest in your linen bike baskets!

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