Here at Farm Urban, we always try and think about the why of what we’re doing, and to make sure that whatever we do is in accord with our values and the things that we care about. And doing things in the right way is particularly important when it comes to how we treat each other and work together as a team.
We’ve been really inspired by some of the ideas in the book Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux, which our friends at Squash Nutrition told us about. Reinventing Organisations looks at how the structure of organisations has evolved over time, and how people’s relationship to employment and the places where they work is changing.
A key idea in the book is that members of a company need to be able to show up for work as a whole person, bringing their interests and passions, as well as any issues in their life outside of work with them. This obviously isn’t easy, but we believe it’s important to try and make work something that is a meaningful part of life, rather than just a route to earning a wage that can actually be a major source of unhappiness.
On many different levels, lots of our day-to-day work practices are really bad for us, particularly when it comes to our physical well-being. From wolfing down unhealthy fast-food at a desk, to spending hours indoors sitting in a chair and staring at a screen (something the human body isn’t evolved for and doesn’t respond well to), we don’t do our bodies any favours at work.
We want to see if we can change some of that, so we decided to try bringing physical activity into work, firstly as a way of getting us to move around more and take notice of our bodies, but also to try interacting with our co-workers in a completely different way.
Paul, who has been on the School for Social Entrepreneurs program for the past year, has been fortunate enough to get to know fellow social entrepreneur Akiel, from Capoeira For All. We decided we would try doing a weekly Capoeira session as a way to make our working lives a bit healthier and to explore different ways of our working together within Farm Urban.
Akiel is a force of nature; a powerful and confident character with a roguish charm that hides a more thoughtful and considerate side. Akiel introduced us to the heady blend of dance, acrobatics, martial arts, singing and play that is Capoeira and had us doing cartwheels before the end of the first session. Music and voice are an important part of Capoeira so we found ourselves singing, shouting and even at one point squawking, yelping and growling as ways to explore becoming more comfortable using our voice.
It was like nothing we’d done before, and all of us were a bit hesitant to start off with, but by the end of the week we were starting to learn the basic moves that make up the dance and becoming increasingly comfortable working together in a physical space.
Akiel also helped us to explore the parallels between the physical movements and interactions we were doing during the session, and our day-to-day interactions within Farm Urban. Seeing things through the lens of physical movement really helped us to identify internal dynamics that we’d have struggled to see otherwise. The discussions that stemmed from this helped us to think about different ways that we can work together. Doing a physical activity together has also brought all of us much closer together and really energised the interactions between us so that it feels like a breath of fresh air has blown the through the company.
The week of capoeira has been so successful that we’ve decided to introduce a weekly session into the Farm Urban working week going forward to keep the momentum going. As part of this we’re looking forward to helping Akiel and Capoeira For All to develop a program so that other businesses can explore the idea of using physical activity as a powerful, if slightly quirky, way of getting teams to work together and help to develop their business culture.