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"Casual Friday" Gets Active

Instead of wearing jeans for Casual Friday, ask employees to wear their workout clothes. Load the day with a morning yoga class in the conference room, a salad-style potluck, and at least one walking meeting to bring happiness and health to work.

Photo of Ashley Elmblad
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Many offices already endorse the weekly custom of Casual Friday.  Using the same norm, ask your employees to wear their workout clothes instead.  Wearing active clothing overcomes one barrier many working professionals have to working out before, during, or after work - the task of changing clothes.  The day could be coupled with several other healthy norms:
  1. Have a yoga class in a conference room - as everyone will already be in their workout clothes, participation will likely be higher than on a normal day.
  2. Encourage everyone to have at least one walking meeting during the day.  Again, with sneakers already on (instead of high heels or business shoes), it'll be easy to get your team moving outside.  You could even keep score to prompt some friendly competition across the office.
  3. Sponsor a Salad-Style Office Pot-Luck.  Everyone brings salad fixings for a healthy alternative to the usual heavy, fattening foods that often frequent the conference room table.

Note: if anyone has suggestions for a more catchy name than "Workout Clothes Friday", please submit your thought in the comments!  Some suggestions thus far:

  • Gym kit for Fri-fit -- Terence Canning
  • Fitness Friday -- Beth Worrall
  • Fitday -- Beth Beth Worrall
  • Casual Fit-day (to mimic "Casual Friday")-- myself
  • The Ultimate Friday -- Emmanuel Adeusi
  • Fri-fun-fit Day -- Chris Whellams
  • Others?

What are the benefits of your concept for the individual and the employer?

Casual Friday has always been regarded as a perk by employees; something to look forward to throughout the week, and something that makes Friday a bit more exciting than the rest. Workout Clothes Friday will share this same sentiment, and even help some employees feel more satisfied as it eliminates an often times lengthy transition from workout clothes to work clothes and back again. For employers, Work Clothes Friday can help boost employee satisfaction without creating any budget allocations, revising existing workspace, or formally boosting employee benefit plans. In fact, the idea could be implemented almost on the turn of a dime with minimal preparation - in less than one week.

What might the impact of your concept be and how might it be measured?

Workout Clothes Friday would breakdown office barriers to and facilitate activities for healthy behaviors. In the near-term, employee satisfaction could increase notably as a) people begin to look forward to Friday as unique day at the office, b) as team camaraderie strengthens through salad potlucks, healthy activities challenges, and walking meetings, and c) as employees feel that their health and happiness are an important part of the company culture. Near term impacts could be measured by taking a simple satisfaction questionnaire before implementation, and then again three months, six months, and one year post implementation. In the long-term, individual employee physical health and mental health could also be impacted. Physical health improvements could be measured by applications like Massive Health's "The Eatery" or Virgin Group's "HealthMiles" program - changes in BMI reduction, eating habits, and changes in physical activity on Fridays could be some of the core metrics to track long-term impact. Mental health improvements could be measured by using the same questionnaire mentioned above (employees could rate their stress and happiness levels throughout the day before implementation and then again at various points post implementation). On a more extreme level, you could test cortisol levels over time for participating employees/offices before and after implementation compared to non-participating employees/offices.

How might your concept be designed to scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

1) Rather than having individual companies sponsor Workout Clothes Friday, the actual office complex could serve as the primary sponsor working collaboratively with each of their tenant companies. For example, the Orcale Office park in Superior, CO hosts several companies and hundreds of employees on it's campus. Rather than just one individual company implementing Workout Clothes Friday with maybe 100 employees, Orcale could be the sponsor, effecting possibly 700-1000 employees all together. Of course the details would be managed by each individual company to ensure the concept aligns with the company culture. The main, overarching theme could simply be "wear casual clothes", and then other components like salad potlucks, walking meetings, and competitions could be managed at the individual company level. 2) Another way to bring this concept to scale is to create an online social forum for participating companies. This could be a facebook-meets-OpenIDEO-meets-The Eatery type platform where all participating companies share stories, metrics, and activities. The forum could even host national events like Ride Your Bike to Work Day, a gardening event on Earth Day, activities that mimic the Olympics during the actual Olympic Games, etc.

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

In Phase One, a few companies could implement Workout Clothes Friday to prototype activities, communications, and measurement methods. Lessons from Phase One could be refined and then brought to a large office complex (as described above) for Phase Two. For Phase Three, the online community could be established to open the concept to other companies and complexes to join as they please, coupled with a creative marketing campaign. At some point the custom might spill outside of the business world into other sectors; government, education, etc.

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Photo of Fei Xin

I hope that it can be implement as soon as possible.

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