June 21, 2018

L.L.Bean pop-up for outdoor coworking space launches in NYC

Courtesy / L.L.Bean, Industrious — Whitney J. Fox, photographer
Courtesy / L.L.Bean, Industrious — Whitney J. Fox, photographer
A view of the outdoor coworking space that L.L.Bean created with the co-working company Industrious. The two companies launched L.L.Bean's “Be An Outsider At Work” initiative in New York City's Madison Square Park today: A pop-up co-working space that includes individual workspaces, collaborative conference areas, cycling desks and outdoor team-building activities.

Be an Outsider at Work

"Be an Outsider at Work" will launch in New York City's Madison Square Park on Thursday, June 21, and will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., complete with wifi, power and collaborative workspaces designed by Industrious. After New York City, the activation will travel to Boston, July 10-12; Philadelphia, July 17-19; and Madison, Wisc., July 24-26.

In a partnership with the co-working company Industrious, L.L.Bean launched a new variation of its "Be An Outsider" initiative in New York City's Madison Square Park today: A pop-up co-working space that includes individual workspaces, collaborative conference areas, cycling desks and outdoor team-building activities.

Retail Dive reported that the "Be an Outsider at Work" initiative is intended to inspire companies to bring more outdoor time into the workday. Founded in 2013, Industrious has created co-working spaces in 28 American cities and describes itself as "redefining the workplace for Fortune 500 companies, freelancers and entrepreneurs."

After today's 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. launch in New York City, L.L.Bean and Industrious plan to take their outdoor workspace on the road, with pop-up installations planned for Boston July 10-12, Philadelphia July 17-19 and Madison, Wisc., July 24-26, according to retail trade e-newsletter.

The companies are inviting people to sign up for a test run of the free outdoor workspace online here. L.L.Bean's Outdoor Discovery Program experts will also be onsite at NYC's Madison Square Park and the other venues to facilitate a short team-building exercise, which will involve a group problem-solving activity designed to highlight teamwork, communication and leadership skills.

"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," L.L.Bean President and CEO Steve Smith said in a news release. "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."

Expanding what it means to 'Be an Outsider'

Courtesy / L.L.Bean
Courtesy / L.L.Bean
l.l..Bean co-authored with Leigh Stringer and Industrious this handbook.

A new survey from L.L.Bean found that while most people enjoy the outdoors, many of them rarely take time to work outside. In fact, 87% of indoor workers consider themselves someone who enjoys the outdoors, but 75% of indoor workers rarely or never take time to work outside.

To better understand the barriers and benefits to working outdoors, L.L.Bean has partnered with workplace strategy expert Leigh Stringer, author of "The Healthy Workplace: How to Improve the Well-Being of Your Employees — and Boost Your Company's Bottom Line." A PDF of L.L.Bean's 32-page handbook, "Be An Outsider At Work," co-authored with Industrious and Stringer, can be found by clicking on the internal link at the bottom of this story.

"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?" said Stringer. "Our survey revealed there's a strong desire to spend more time outside during the workday, and our goal with this initiative is to show that there are many different ways to do so; we're turning the workspace inside out."

The L.L.Bean 2018 Work and the Outdoors Survey revealed:

  • A majority of those surveyed who work indoors would like to spend more time outside during the workday, yet see their job as their biggest barrier. The survey found that 86% of indoor workers would like to spend more time outside during the workday and 65% of survey respondents said their job is the biggest barrier to spending time outdoors.
  • Workers strongly support the idea of outdoor workspace, yet company culture does not always support it. The survey found that 82% of indoor workers liked or loved the concept of an outdoor workspace. Only half of respondents say their colleagues and boss would be supportive of working outside, or would not care as long as work is getting done.
  • Workers believe there are tangible benefits to working outside. The top five perceived benefits to working outdoors are: Improve their mood (74%); lower their stress level (71%); provide relaxation (69%); promote health and wellness (66%); increase 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 %).

"Companies are beginning to realize that the digital transformation is making the workplace more flexible, collaborative and open than ever before," said Jamie Hodari, CEO of Industrious. "People thrive in coworking spaces and we think there is potential for even greater benefits if they work together outside. This is the first time we're bringing our coworking expertise outdoors and we're thrilled to partner with L.L.Bean and take on the challenge of creating this unique workspace."

Not tied to L.L.Bean merchandise

Retail Dive reported that L.L.Bean isn't tying any of its merchandise to its collaboration with Industrious. Rather, it reported, the "Be An Outsider At Work" initiative is "an on-brand effort to connect with consumers in a visceral way."

"L.L.Bean has always been about getting people outside and enjoying the outdoors," Kathryn Pratt, L.L.Bean's director of brand engagement, told Retail Drive. "This campaign is really about inspiration, about working outside, not on-site selling. We're just excited to create a movement and encourage people to integrate the outdoors into their workday, and not just reserve the outdoors for after work or for the weekend."

Retail Dive reported that L.L.Bean tested the spaces at its Freeport store earlier this year and plans to return them there after making its tour of selected cities this summer

"We piloted this at our HQ with employees," Pratt said. "It was not even the best weather, but the spaces were booked the entire week."


How to Be An Outsider At Work handbook


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