LL Bean Just Opened The First Outdoor Coworking Space

published Jun 21, 2018
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(Image credit: Michael G. McKinne)

From their iconic Bean Boots to their once-famous lifetime guarantee return policy, LL Bean has been synonymous with outdoorsy lifestyle goals for more than 100 years. So—while Amazon recently tried—if anyone was going to truly bring the outdoors into the office by creating the first ever outdoor coworking space, of course it was going to be one of America’s favorite recreation brands.

(Image credit: Whitney J. Fox/L.L. Bean)

We couldn’t have said it better: LL Bean’s new outdoor coworking spaces give new meaning to being “out of office.” With a new campaign called “Be an Outsider at Work,” LL Bean has partnered with national coworking chain Industrious to create pop-up outdoor workspaces across the country.

After a successful pilot at LL Bean headquarters in Freeport, Maine earlier this month, the outdoor coworking concept—featuring individual workstations and collaborative conference areas built into glass-walled shipping containers, plus outdoor meeting spaces, and even group cycling desks—has just popped up in downtown Manhattan (with future spaces planned for Boston, Philly, and Madison, Wisconsin).

According to research by LL Bean and Industrious, Americans currently spend 95 percent of our time indoors—something they would like to change by encouraging people to be outside more during the workday.

In their campaign video, LL Bean plays on popular corporate jargon by asking questions such as “What if open floor plans were truly open?” and “Is ‘blue sky thinking’ better done under a clear blue sky?”, along with various ways everyone can incorporate more time outdoors into their daily 9 to 5 routines.

In tandem with the newly published study on outdoor workplace dynamics—featuring advice from 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—LL Bean wants Americans to know they can reap the rewards of the outdoors in “only a few minutes per day…whether your office is in the shadows of skyscrapers or spruce trees.”

(Image credit: Whitney J. Fox/L.L. Bean)

Some of those simple everyday steps shared in their new Be an Outsider at Work motivational PDF cards include taking meetings outdoors or on a walk, and that spending time in the natural world, even briefly, could help office workers become 300 percent more creative or 50 percent more productive—even 92 percent happier—just by getting outside more during the work day.

“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.”

Their research findings—much like those that Amazon recently shared as motivation for opening The Spheres (aka “Jeff’s Balls”, as employees call them)—is meant to combat something that National Geographic calls “nature-deficit disorder”. Or, you know, not spending 95 percent of our time indoors.

LL Bean’s outdoor coworking and meeting spaces will be available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, with daily slots booked through Industrious—starting with the one opening today (Thursday June 21st) in New York City’s Madison Square Park, with other cities following close behind: Boston (July 10-12); Philadelphia (July 17-19); and Madison, Wisconsin (July 24-26).