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Productivity gains of enabling staff to commute by foot, bike and public transport outweighs costs of well-placed offices, says CEO of Office Space Matters

An expert on office space and productivity says companies need to prioritise walking and cycling facilities and “forget about cars” in order to maintain a productive workforce.

Darren Bilsborough, CEO of Consultancy Office Space Matters, and author on office space and productivity, says in his research the top concerns of businesses looking for new premises, below size and cost, were concerns around commuting.

However, in an article in Workplace Insight he estimates the productivity gains of an active workforce, who use their commutes for exercise, or alternatively as downtime or to do extra work, can outweigh higher costs of being near good public transport links.

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Bilsborough’s research suggested a 6% productivity gain when people participated in active travel modes (defined as thirty minutes of walking or cycling per day).

He said: “The main reason for this productivity improvement was due to a reduction in obesity and health risks for those undertaking ‘active’ commuting. Active travel is of course enabled by making use of effective and efficient public transport systems, but what’s really interesting is that that workplace productivity improvements as little as 6-10 percent may be sufficient to completely offset office rental costs.”

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He said: “Forget about cars and non-essential car-parking, as this should only be required for ‘on the road’ salespeople or pool cars. Concentrate instead on how you can encourage staff to participate in cycling, walking and public transport use.”

He adds  businesses should choose their offices, to “seriously consider the opportunities associated via either ‘active’, ‘restful’ or in some ways ‘gratifying’ use of public transport”.