L.L.Bean is putting a new spin on being out of the office with an outdoor coworking space that involves a fresh design, plenty of fresh air, and cycling desks.
The brand is partnering with coworking provider, Industrious, to launch its “Be an Outsider at Work” initiative. The space debuted June 21 in New York City’s Madison Square Park and will travel through the summer to several U.S. cities. Along with the pedal-powered tables, other features include individual workspaces, collaborative conference areas, and outdoor teambuilding activities.
The project comes on the heels of a new survey from the L.L.Bean 2018 Work and the Outdoors Survey. Findings derived from 1,050 American indoor 9-to-5 workers ages 22 to 65 reveal that 87% of indoor workers consider themselves someone who enjoys the outdoors. However, 75% of indoor workers rarely or never take time to work outside.
Top 5 tangible benefits
More findings include:
- 86% of indoor workers would like to spend more time outside during the workday
- 65% of survey respondents said their job is the biggest barrier to spending time outdoors.
- 82% of indoor workers liked or loved the concept of an outdoor workspace.
- 50% say their colleagues and boss would be supportive of working outside, or would not care as long as work is getting done.
Workers also believe there are tangible benefits to working outside. The top 5 perceived benefits are:
- Improving mood (74%)
- Lowering stress level (71%)
- Providing relaxation (69%)
- Promoting health and wellness (66%)
- Increasing happiness (64%)
Workers claim they are most likely to do creative and relationship-based work outdoors, and see less potential for work involving technology and equipment. Indoor workers are most likely to do creative work (77%), brainstorms (73%) or one on one discussions (73%) outside, and least likely to do computer-based work (41%) or conference calls (32%), according to the survey.
“So many of us love spending time outdoors and appreciate the benefits, yet for many people outdoor time is only spent away from work and on weekends,” says Steve Smith, president and CEO of L.L.Bean. “We hope that the ‘Be an Outsider at Work’ initiative will inspire employees to be creative in finding new ways to incorporate outdoor time in their day. We also hope that by demonstrating the benefits, employers will be supportive of this idea.”
Blue sky brainstorming
For those unable to participate in one of L.L.Bean’s outdoor coworking spaces, the brand states there are many simple ways to incorporate the outdoors into the workday, such as:
- Host a Blue Sky Brainstorm: Boost creativity by taking a brainstorm into an outdoor space
- Share Al Fresco Feedback: Try sharing feedback with colleagues in the fresh air. It’s a naturally de-stressing environment, and walking together in a single direction helps keep the conversation future-focused.
- Take a Refresh Session: Get outside even just for a break or over lunch. Research shows taking a 5-15 minute walk can rejuvenate you for the tasks ahead and refocus your day.
- Optimize Outside for Work: Create a dedicated outdoor workspace or a toolkit complete with wifi, anti-glare screens, and shade at home or with your employer
- Outerviews: Put the view back in interview by hosting them outside. It will reduce participant anxiety, feel like more neutral territory and encourage open dialogue in the open air.
The survey reveals there’s a strong desire to spend more time outside during the workday. With this initiative, the goal is to show that there are many different ways to do so, says workplace strategy expert Leigh Stringer, who is partnering with L.L.Bean.
“As humans, we have a preference to be in and among nature over man-made environments, so why not adopt the notion of working outside,” says Stringer, author of “The Healthy Workplace: How to Improve the Well-Being of Your Employees—and Boost Your Company’s Bottom Line.”
Following its New. York run, the initiative hits the road offering free workspaces and WiFi in the following cities:
- Boston, July 10-12
- Philadelphia, July 17-19
- Madison, WI, July 24-26
Check out the video below. For a downloadable report and other information, go here.