9 Ways to Create a Happy Workplace: Expedition Behavior

By Molly Herber

Jan 8, 2016


Productive Discussion Photo by Sarah Losen


Expedition behavior is probably one of the top three conversation topics on a NOLS course, after assessing the cheese supply and the likelihood of rain. Folks define expedition behavior in various ways, but a definition I like is "doing your part to make the whole expedition succeed," including practicing good self-care and lending a hand when needed.

This isn’t too complicated in the backcountry, because the tasks are usually obvious and the consequences of not doing your part (i.e., staying in your sleeping bag when you need to wake up) are immediate (i.e., having the tent taken down around you while it’s raining, thereby getting all of your stuff wet).

But in the office, expedition behavior isn't so obvious. Your co-workers may have different or more abstract goals, and the consequences of being a little lazy (as we all can be) tend to affect the group's well-being less dramatically or less directly. At the same time, practicing a little good expedition behavior each day can be the key difference between being excited to go to work every day, or feeling like you're heading into a dungeon.

Here are a few of our ideas for practicing good expedition behavior at the office. They may not change the direction of the entire company, but they’ll definitely brighten your day, and may even give someone else the best Monday ever.

9 Ways to Practice Expedition Behavior at the Office

1. Shower before work


Swimming in the Gila Photo by Jared Steinman.


You may not be able to smell you, but everyone else can...

2. Say “Good morning” to everyone


You'll be amazed at how easily a smile can spread!

3. Don’t fight for the last cinnamon roll (cut it in half and share!)


Cinnamon Rolls in a Fry-Bake Photo by Charlotte Klein.


Sharing is crucial to building good rapport with your co-workers that can lead to future rewards, like further snack sharing.

4. Keep the gossip to a minimum


Chatting as a Group Photo courtesy of Alex Chang - Cornell Leadership Expedition


Sometimes, co-workers can be frustrating. But it's likely that you'll be the frustrating co-worker at some point, too. Keeping down the gossip helps maintain a positive environment where everyone feels safe and supported, even with their mistakes (we humans are prone to them).

5. Refill the coffee pot


Drinking Coffee Photo courtesy of Alex Chang - Cornell Leadership Expedition


Well-caffeinated co-workers are happy co-workers.

6. Wear headphones


Headphones at Work Photo by Ramiro Ramirez


Not everyone loves ABBA as much as you do. Also, remember to remain open to communication while wearing headphones, so that if a co-worker has a question they can ask it without forcibly separating you from your earbuds.

7. Clean up common areas


Cleaning From Giphy


Wipe down kitchen counters, clean the microwave, and dry up that pile of snow melting where you forgot to stomp your boots before walking down the hallway. If you're wondering who's supposed to clean up that mess, step up and clean up the mess yourself!

8. Stay home if you’re sick


Kitten with a Cold Photo by Angus Lau


You don't help anyone out by spreading your sickness to the rest of the office. Stay home, rest up, and get well!

9. Lend a hand


Asking for Help Photo by Brooks Eaton


We all have those weeks where there are too many things to do in an impossibly short amount of time. When your co-worker is swamped, ask how you can help. Even if you can't share their workload, they know you're aware of their stress and that they have your support.

Learn more about bringing expedition behavior and other leadership skills to the workplace with NOLS Custom Education.

Thanks to the NOLSies who shared the ways they've seen good expedition behavior practiced at our headquarters in Lander, Wyoming!

Related Posts
Why Outdoorsy People Make the Best Co-workers
Four Key Leadership Roles
How NOLS Made Me a Better Restaurant Manager: The Northstar Cafe Story

Written By

Molly Herber

Molly is a NOLS instructor and writer. She loves the smell of her backpack and does her best writing before 7:00 am. When she's not scouting the next post for the NOLS Blog, she's running and climbing on rocks in Wyoming. Follow her on Instagram @mgherber

Up Next