The smiles spoke volumes as employees across Edelman once again left their desks last week to participate in Outdoor Office Day.
The photos began appearing on Workplace from Hong Kong and New Delhi early in the morning and continued throughout the day with San Francisco and Vancouver posting long after many had gone to sleep. From outdoor yoga classes in Mexico City, New York and Sao Paulo to al fresco meetings, brainstorming and coaching sessions across the network, it was a day of connection and celebration.
But why did we bother?
It was an opportunity to extend the theme and embrace the spirit Outdoor Classroom Day, a day to celebrate and inspire outdoor learning and play in schools. The day itself was developed by NGO Project Dirt and is powered by Unilever* and their leading Dirt is Good laundry detergent brands, whose purpose is to get kids and families to embrace dirt for a life well-lived. When partnering with Unilever to create this idea in 2016, our Edelman Intelligence team led research that found maximum security prisoners spend more time outside than most of our children. A striking, but telling fact given today’s always on, but increasingly indoor lifestyles.
With this campaign helping so many children to experience the benefits of learning in the outdoors, it makes sense that adults in the workplace could benefit in similar ways. A quick online search and you can find dozens of articles expounding the virtues of being outside, from reduced stress, fatigue and blood pressure to improved vision, concentration and creativity. And if it were only for that last one – creativity – the impetus for getting outside would be enough. At Edelman, The Freedom to be Constantly Curious is one of our three core values, and taking our routines outside always creates the potential for new insights, new inspiration and a bit of fun within and across teams.
One week prior to Outdoor Office Day, employees across Edelman UK downed their indoor tools and spent the day working with charities across London, many of them outside. While we’re confident our contributions made a big difference, the imprint on those of us volunteering was just as powerful.
By stepping away from our routines, taking a few hours or just a few minutes to see ourselves and our surroundings in a different way, we gain new perspective. It’s not a stretch to imagine the quality of our work and our collective health could be among the beneficiaries.
Here’s to everyone who stepped outside last week, and to celebrating Outdoor Office Day. Every day.
Nigel Miller is chief human resources officer, Edelman.