Once a Month This CEO Kicks Staffers Out of the Office. Here's Why.

On the first Friday of every month, Ron Schneidermann tells his employees to go take a hike. Literally.

Schneidermann is the CEO of AllTrails, the fitness app used by 60 million hikers, mountain bikers, climbers and snow sports junkies to plan their outdoor adventures. A few years ago, my birthday landed on a Friday, and I took the day off from work to go do a big mountain bike ride with some colleagues,” he explains. “I was hesitant to take a full day away from the office, but it turned out to be an awesome experience together out on the trail. We were brainstorming ideas for AllTrails, recharging in nature, and letting our guards down for a more authentic connection. Not only did I feel great both physically and mentally afterward, but there was no denying how productive our time together off-campus ended up being.”

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That was the genesis of what is now known as Trail Day. And for the past four years, on the first Friday of every month, staffers are told to abandon their desks and computers and to hit the trails, field test the app, and mostly, decompress.

Given that the company has been doing this for four years, you might have guessed that the program is delivering. “I noticed that our team members came back from Trail Day more excited about our mission to get people outdoors, re-energized with new ideas, and more connected with their colleagues,” says Schneidermann. “Trading one day a month behind the screen for so much positivity and impact was and is a no-brainer investment.”

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Schneidermann says that it’s been a great asset in preserving company culture as it expands. AllTrail’s headcount doubled three years in a row and now has over 200 workers. Sending staffers out into the wild once a month is not only a fun break, but it helps unify the company mission in everyone’s minds. “We’re built on the idea that we’re all made better by spending time in nature,” says Schneidermann.

It also helps bond employees with customers. One of our company’s core values is ‘spread the stoke.’ We want to bring on team members who can help others get that feeling — that stoke — that you have when you get out on the trail with friends and family,” he says. Trail Day, he says, reinforces what the company is all about and the value it brings. “Our employees can really empathize with our users — because we are our users.”

This concept can be applied in many variations across all kinds of industries. Running a bakery? Give employees a couple of bucks to go try a muffin across town and see what they think of the taste and customer experience. Have an EdTech app? Have your sales and tech team take a course on company time. “By prioritizing one day a month for connection, rejuvenation, ideation, and good clean fun out in nature, we keep our core values front and center,” says Schneidermann, “and I’m convinced that we are a stronger and more connected team because of it.”

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