Brooklyn-born coworking provider Industrious teamed with apparel brand L.L. Bean to create an outdoor coworking space in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park last Thursday.
The showcase is part of L.L. Bean’s “Be An Outsider At Work” initiative aimed at bringing more outdoor time into the workday.
“Companies are beginning to realize that the digital transformation is making the workplace more flexible, collaborative, and open than ever before,” said Industrious CEO Jamie Hodari. “People thrive in coworking spaces and we think there is potential for even greater benefits if they work together outside.”
The outdoor space featured a variety of seating arrangements for up to 50 people, including standing desks, lounge-style seating, benches, pedal desks and quasi-indoor spaces, as well as working WiFi and power outlets.
“We’ve taken a coworking space and removed all the walls,” said Leigh Stringer, a workplace strategy expert with EYP Architecture and Engineering, which partnered with L.L. Bean for this project. “We’re showing different settings for how you can work outdoors without sacrificing productivity.”
The “Be An Outsider At Work” initiative is based on a survey conducted by L.L. Bean of 1,050 American workers that revealed 86 percent of workers would like to spend more time outside during the workday.
“We came because we wanted to be outside but I felt like we accomplished four hours worth of work in a single hour,” said Melissa Barry, a vice president at Ketchum Public Relations, who brought her team to the outdoor space.
“I feel more free and less pressured working outside” added Alexandra Liu, a student at New York University. “It helps me be more relaxed and in turn I think I’m more productive.”
However, not everyone who used the space thought it would be a boon to their productivity.
“There’s a lot going on here, a lot of people walking around,” said Elat Schor, a data strategy analyst at Ogilvy. “I think this would be cool for a lunch break or maybe once a week, but I don’t think I would get much work done.”
After New York City, the showcase will pop-up in Boston from July 10–12, Philadelphia from July 17–19, and Madison, Wisconsin, from July 24–26.