L.L. Bean and co-working company Industrious have launched "Be an Outsider at Work," pop-up outdoor co-working spaces in various cities that include a work area and collaborative space equipped with wifi and power, according to an email sent to Retail Dive.
The effort opens Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in New York City's Madison Square Park, then moves to Boston July 10-12, Philadelphia July 17-19 and Madison, Wisconsin July 24-26. Anyone interested — L.L. Bean customer or not — can book the free workspaces during that time period.
The outdoor retailer also released research finding that Americans spend 95% of their time indoors, nearly half of it working. Yet spending time outside, even at work, has tangible benefits, according to the retailer: 74% of workers said it improves their mood, 71% said it lowers stress and certain types of "indoor work," including brainstorming, are perceived as especially doable outside.
Unlike J. Crew's effort with co-working startup WeWork, L.L. Bean isn't tying any of its merchandise to this project. In that way, it's more like REI's anti-Black Friday #OptOutside campaign — 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," the retailer's Director of Brand Engagement Kathryn Pratt told Retail Dive in an interview. "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."
The retailer worked with Industrious to ensure the spaces were not just aesthetically pleasing and conducive to work, but would also provoke people to stop and consider the outdoors. L.L. Bean also sought advice from workplace guru Leigh Stringer, she said.
The spaces were tested earlier this year at L.L. Bean's Freeport, Maine headquarters, and once they've completed their run, they'll return and be permanently installed there, Pratt said. "We piloted this at our HQ with employees. It was not even the best weather, but the spaces were booked the entire week."
That may have been a welcome respite. The retailer in March announced it would be laying off 100 workers, scaling back employee health insurance benefits and withholding pay performance bonuses for the first time in 10 years. The company also stunned many of its most loyal customers with the reversal of its longstanding liberal return policy for used or damaged merchandise, which executives said was being abused 15% of the time, double the rate a few years ago.