At the National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C., commuting by bike to work is second nature for many of the employees. In fact, CEO of National Geographic Society, John Fahey, encourages it. National Public Radio’s Morning Edition recently featured Fahey and his crew on their daily lunchtime ride in the story Switching Gears: More Commuters Bike to Work. Any employee who wants to get to know Fahey better –and their fellow coworkers, presumably–can join the daily ride around D.C.
The National Geographic ride is not only refreshing and rejuvenating for those who participate, it is also a great time to share a little workplace gossip. As Fahey puts it, “What happens is, I find out sort of what the scuttlebutt in the hallways is. And sometimes, it’s totally ill-informed and sometimes, it’s spot-on. But it’s really good to know what people think.” Interesting type of incentive to encourage his employees to ride on the part of the CEO, wouldn’t you say?
Anyhow, joking aside, the other benefit of the lunchtime ride, is that many people have given up driving to work altogether. For example, the National Geographic photo editor, Dan Westergren, gave up driving when his kids were young, because riding to work, along with incorporating the lunchtime ride a few times each week, were the most efficient ways to stay fit and still have enough time for his family. As other employees explain it, you can skip a gym class, but you can’t skip going home when you have to ride your bike, so it is a great way to get fit and stay fit. And although the lunchtime ride is optional, it is clearly a great way to social (erhm…brown nose) with the boss and get out of the office for a bit.
As many of us bike commuters know, riding to and from work can be refreshing, and even downright enjoyable. It might even make us more productive and consequently, more valuable to our employers. But there are other workplace incentives for riding to work. Take the Federal Bike Commuter Benefit, which became law in January of 2009. Employers can offer the bike commuter benefit, which results in an up to $20 per employee per month reimbursement for bike commuting related expenses. I must say, my bike commuting expenses are not even close to $20 per month (I commute about 50 miles per week), so it’s like getting paid to ride! Find out if your workplace offers this, and if they don’t, you can politely ask them to implement it, because well, it’s law.
What incentives does your workplace offer for riding to work? What other incentives would you like to see?