Workspace strategist Leigh Stringer, center, collaborated with L.L. Bean and Industrious to produce the first outdoor coworking popup.

Workspace strategist Leigh Stringer, center, collaborated with L.L. Bean and Industrious to produce the first outdoor coworking popup.

L.L. Bean reveals new survey on the barriers and benefits to working outside as part of “Be an Outsider at Work” 

Last week I stopped by Madison Square Park to check out L.L. Bean's coworking outdoors and spoke with Leigh Stringer, a workplace strategist who partnered with L.L. Bean on the project. 

As usual, Leigh, author of The Healthy Workplace: How to Improve the Well- Being of Your Employees—and Boost Your Company's Bottom Lin, was full of gems of knowledge.

Today I wanted to take a deeper dive and share more details on what L.L. Bean, Leigh and partner Industrious learned in the research phase prior to rolling out the popup. In addition to studying the benefits of working outdoors, they surveyed 9-5ers to learn what stood in their way of working outside to learn how they might make it more accessible.

“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.”

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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 percent of indoor workers would like to spend more time outside during the workday, and 65 percent of survey respondents said their job is the biggest barrier to spending time outdoors.

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Workers strongly support the idea of outdoor workspace, yet company culture does not always support it. The survey found that 82 percent 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 5 perceived benefits to working outdoors are:
    • Improve their mood (74 percent)
    • Lower their stress level (71 percent)
    • Provide relaxation (69 percent)
    • Promote health and wellness (66 percent)
    • Increased happiness (64 percent)
  • 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 percent), brainstorms (73 percent) or one on one discussions (73 percent) outside, and least likely to do computer-based work (41 percent) or conference calls (32 percent).
 Industrious leveraged its design expertise to develop several options for coworking outdoors.

Industrious leveraged its design expertise to develop several options for coworking outdoors.

“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.”

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How to Be an Outsider at Work

If you were unable to make it to one of L.L.Bean’s outdoor coworking spaces, there are many simple ways to incorporate the outdoors into your 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.
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To learn more about the benefits of spending more time outside, visit BeAnOutsiderAtWork.com L.L. Bean's research handbook eBook is available for download and suggests simple ways to bring the outdoors into your workday. Share how the outdoors benefits your work with #BeanOutsider.

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