During a visit to Oregon Microenterprises Network (OMEN), I was struck by the interesting configuration of a small office occupied by the three individuals above: Michael Gurton, Alysse Kerr and Cori Moore. At first, I thought everyone had stood to greet us, but it was soon clear they were each busy at their individual workstations. I learned they were each researching various topics for several up and coming micro businesses in Oregon. Beside the fact everyone was facing into the middle of the room, I noted the precisely placed cardboard boxes which held monitors, key boards and mouse pads. To the chagrin of my calling partner, I asked the question, “What is this all about? Why are you all standing?”
The idea of standing around all day was championed by, Michael Gurton, MarketLink’s Program Director at OMEN. Mr. Gurton explained he had learned sitting all day was extremely unhealthy and less productive than standing. He stated research has found that sitting for 11 or more hours per day increases risk of death by 40 percent, regardless of other activity levels. When Michael went in search of healthier workstations for him and his team, he found them to be cost prohibitive which is where they got creative and busy. The MarketLink team built their own custom fitted stations out of used cardboard boxes and tape.
Gurton’s team embodies all the good things the TV show Portlandia pokes fun at Portlanders for. For example, they all ride their bikes to work or take mass transit and as we were leaving they were all off to spend their lunch visiting the local downtown farmers market. Also, I spied the largest squash I had ever seen sitting outside their shared office. I learned Michael had grown this spectacular squash in his own small urban garden. He graciously insisted we take it home as a parting gift for our visit.
As I left the MarketLink team that afternoon, I felt energized and proud to be from a city that embraces the unique and challenges the status quo. The work OMEN does on behalf of micro businesses and the outstanding research their MarketLink team provides business that couldn’t afford such research otherwise is “priceless” if it enables the next great company to be born.
What could or have you done to make your business healthier for you and your co-workers?
Do you accept the status quo or do you champion new ideas?
To learn more about MarketLink and Oregon Microenterprise Network click the link below: