Tour de Office, an Australian nonprofit, is encouraging office-bound workers to get more active while raising money for charity — and streaming video plays a key role.
“The growing knowledge economy is putting more people behind desks for longer periods of time,” says Tudor Marsden-Huggins, an avid cyclist and founder of Employment Office, a recruitment agency based in Australia. “Research shows that sitting for more than four hours per day greatly increases your risk of chronic disease.”
In 2011, Marsden-Huggins launched Tour de Office, a week-long relay event to raise awareness of those health risks. The events are part friendly athletic competition, part fundraising challenge. Participating companies compete for a charity of their choice, and Tour de Office live streams the action online to maximize donations. (See how a live stream solution like this quickly scales.)
A hobby sparks a nationwide health initiative
Two weeklong Tour de Office events are held each year in August and September across Australia. (Despite the name, the events have no connection with the Tour de France.) To participate, organizations across Australia host stationary road bikes provided by Tour de Office in their workplace for one week. Employees pedal in 30-minute legs throughout the week, raising awareness of the health risks facing office-bound workers—and raising money for charity.
“At first, back in 2011, I simply wanted to create a team-building activity and provide an opportunity for corporate social responsibility for staff at Employment Office,” Marsden-Huggins says. “However, we realized very quickly that there was a lot of interest in corporate wellness in other workplaces.”
The event expanded rapidly as other area businesses joined the week-long relays. The benefits for participating employers were tangible.
“By encouraging staff to engage in more activity, there were fewer sick days, high productivity, better engagement and higher employee retention,” Marsden-Huggins says.
In 2016, more than 1,000 riders at 19 participating companies pedaled more than 13,000 kilometers and raised 201,000 Australian dollars (about $160,000) for thirty charities. Since Tour de Office saves costs by being mostly web-based, more than 90 percent of the money raised goes directly to charity.
Live streaming for dollars
As the event expanded to organizations outside Marsden-Huggins’ firm, Tour de Office needed to find a way to engage sponsors, employees and their supporters. Live streaming was the perfect solution. Marsden-Huggins says that since introducing video streaming, Tour de Office has increased its fundraising activities.
“We use IBM Cloud Video to stream every ride, so audiences can see exactly what’s happening in real time, allowing sponsors, co-workers, competing teams and even family members to keep track of progress during the week,” says Marsden-Huggins. “From a fundraising perspective, streaming video is a great way to keep riders motivated and potential donors engaged. Using IBM Cloud Video also means that a rider’s friends and family can get involved in the event no matter where in the world they might be.”
And the service is intuitive and reliable, a critical factor for the nonprofit’s success.
“It’s easy for anyone, anywhere in the world to log on to, and the streams can be viewed without interruption. Tour de Office has to be a positive experience for the viewers, and IBM Cloud Video provides that.”
Another important factor, Marsden-Huggins says, is that video streaming shouldn’t be difficult for participating companies to use. It’s all part of Tour de Office’s agile, low-overhead business model.
“As an event, Tour de Office is designed to be self-funding and to also scale rapidly,” Marsden-Huggins says. “So far, the event has expanded to be hosted by companies throughout Australia, and we expect to have our overseas stationary bicycle in action in 2018.”
Tour de Office has collected more than 500,000 Australian dollars (about $396,000) since its launch in 2011, while raising awareness about the need for office workers to be more active.
“We’re seeing a shift away from the traditional office environment where workers sit behind a desk eight hours a day with a 30-minute break for lunch,” says Marsden-Huggins. “All of the research backs up that finding ways to exercise will keep us healthy, and Tour de Office is just one way to keep on moving throughout the working day.”
Tour de Office’s August 2017 ride ended on August 25th. Their upcoming September 2017 event, Ride For September, starts September 4th and runs through the 8th.
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