Play more, work better

Student smiling and holding up paper as peer looks on and play more

The Nike Partnership

There is no better time to spotlight the collaboration between The Ideas Foundation and Nike UK. The partnership began back in 2017, alongside NATE (The National Association for the Teaching of English) and advertising agency Adam&EveDDB. The shared aim was to produce creative  industry educational resources, with educators, students, and brands in mind to work better, together.

The creation of these comprehensive resources sparked a deeper relationship with Nike. Various creative projects were collaboratively designed to inspire and raise the aspirations of young people by engaging them with creativity and sport, flipping the script on the “work hard, play hard” mentality. The educational resources were aptly packaged as “Creative Persuasion”; a name rooted in the shared belief that every individual deserves the opportunity to explore their creative potential, regardless of background or circumstance.

Three Students working around a glass table

What’s the big idea?

Spotlighting this partnership comes during a year when 1 in 5 took time off work due to chronic stress and burnout [1]. In the UK, there is a widespread “work hard, play hard” mentality. This toxic mindset perpetuates a culture in schools and amongst workplaces that takes advantage of hard-working individuals without focusing on their work-life balance or wellbeing. In academia, playing more is not synonymous with better work, despite what research has to say.

Guided by industry professionals, led by Olympic athlete Peter Bakare, students were encouraged to take part in creative workshops. Following The Ideas Foundation formula: Industry experience + Brief = Pitch, students were coached to embrace their unique identities and use their own perspectives as tools for creative expression. Whether they were designing campaigns to promote gender equality in sports or initiatives to celebrate cultural diversity through shoe design, students were given the skills to empower themselves, champion inclusivity and use their voice.

Peter Bakare
Peter Bakare

The Impact

Without including those who downloaded resources, the programme touched the lives of 250 students across 8 workshops. The partnership between The Ideas Foundation and Nike serves as a blueprint to inspire not only the New Creative Class, but a new generation of leaders committed to building inclusive workplaces.

Nike’s dedication to inclusivity is made clear through their messaging, “If you have a body, you are an athlete”. By encompassing everybody, every student felt seen when they began each workshop day with a team sports activity, proven to prepare the brain for idea generate on [2]. Exercise is proven to enhance creativeness and academic performance [3]. The research is there. So why isn’t more physical movement interwoven into lessons, before exams and in the creative industry?

Students exercising before their creative workshop to play more and work better

Play more for well-being

Through the conscious fusion of inclusion, sport and creativity, workshops that follow The Ideas Foundation X Nike blueprint could catalyse change across the UK. By equipping students with wellbeing tools and empowering their own perspectives, maybe the future workforce will be more productive and less burnt out? Maybe workplaces won’t mind if their staff go for a walk on company time?

Prioritising time for movement outdoors, particularly in spaces where employers are often inside, sedentary and without sunlight could see companies increase staff morale, health and creativity. From this month, the right to request flexible working is a first day entitlement, a step towards the co-co-creation of diverse and inclusive workplaces. Flexible work arrangements, walking meetings and education are all feasible, so do you feel safe enough to ask for these to be implemented in your workspace?

In the meantime, The Ideas Foundation aims to break down barriers and celebrate diversity, co-creating education and workplace environments where everyone believes that they deserve a seat at the table. How will you play more to work better?

Students gathered around work on a table
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