Last Monday, February 29th, Despacio celebrated Despacio Day for the first time. February 29th is essentially an extra day that we add every four years to correct an astronomical anomaly. We therefore suggested that companies and organizations treat it as a special day, giving employees time to develop activities that improve workplace productivity and quality of life.
What did people propose?
We launched a social media campaign with the logo above and a survey in English and Spanish. We received 60 responses of what people would do with an extra day in the year. Most respondents were in Colombia but we also received responses from Venezuela, Portugal, the United States, Canada, Mexico, Ecuador and Panama. The most common responses had to do with physical activity (exercising, playing sports, riding a bike, walking) or restful activities like reading, going to the movies or eating a good meal. A few press outlets helped us get the word out– check out the articles from smart magazine and El Espectador! We also uploaded a letter explaining Despacio Day for people to show to their bosses.
What did we do?
Using people’s suggestions, Despacio organized a day of simple, fun activities for the staff. We began Despacio Day with an exercise routine in the park behind the office. It was tough, but it made us appreciate the importance of starting the day with physical activity! Afterwards, we watched «The Triplets of Belleville,» a French animated film that deals with topics of bikes, city life, and family.
In the afternoon, we had a picnic lunch by Quebrada la Vieja, a creek and park near the office. We enjoyed the nice weather and park environment while we chatted and ate. We spent the rest of the afternoon sharing stories in a café and preparing for the evening’s party. Despacio Day was a lot of fun because it allowed us to enjoy time and share with each other without the pressures of work.
What did others do?
Other people sent us photos and stories from Despacio Day. Nick Kaufmann did a «soundwalk» in Portland, Maine, listening to and observing the varied sounds of his city. Angelica Castro was in Asunción for Despacio Day, where the 29th happened to be an official holiday. After working hard for a while, she therefore decided to truly appreciate the extra day by reading a book by Juan Gabriel Vasquez and enjoying the sun. She even sent us a photo (below)
Carlosfelipe Pardo, Despacio’s executive director, spent his day working (as usual) but in a different way. He tried to write and draw in a notebook to see what ideas emerged free of the distractions of a computer. Jimena Rivera also used her Despacio Day differently. She told us that after waking up in a different town, she returned to her own early in the morning. She worked most of the day but also spent time biking around the city, taking pictures of the trees (below) and walking barefoot. She ended her day with a nice coffee and then to the movies with her kids.
What did we learn?
Despacio Day is an important initiative that provides space for changes to the typical routine. These changes can affect workplace productivity and quality of life long-term. The idea is closely linked with other initiatives that we have carried out about work environments, such as the book
Pensamos que el Día Despacio es una iniciativa muy importante que permite cambios a la jornada típica, los cuales afectan la productividad y calidad de vida en el trabajo a largo plazo. El concepto es muy vinculado con otras iniciativas que hemos realizado sobre el ámbito laboral, como el libro «How to Bring your Pet to Work» and the «Office in the Park» experiment. However, despite people’s interest in Despacio Day, we encountered challenges in making it happen. Workplace inflexibility, existing commitments and a lack of understanding of the concept were the main obstacles.
Despacio Day 2020!
In 2012, Despacio Day was nothing more than a post on the website. This year, it was bigger, encompassing a worldwide survey and activities for Despacio staff. Given the challenges we faced, we want a bigger and more formalized Despacio Day on February 29, 2020. We would like to work more directly with companies and organization to carry out creative or fun activities within the workplace. We are also going to try to make Despacio Day an actual holiday. We have four years and believe we can do it! If you want to help us with Despacio Day 2020, please write firstname.lastname@example.org.