Our case for the walking meeting.
Did you hear that sitting is the new smoking? We did too. We also don’t feel committed enough to invest in one of those standing desks. What’s the next best thing? A walking meeting!
I once worked at an office that had a sprawling campus, and walking meetings were encouraged in the outdoors. But if the weather is a disaster or the sirens that pepper my days downtown might be more distracting outside, why not take a walk inside your building?
While I don’t know if it will ever be warm enough in Chicago for me to personally take advantage of m own advice, these are some of the perks of a walking meeting:
Enjoy the outdoors
Being active outside (yes, walking counts) has a number of personal and professional benefits. Moving your body is good for you physically, and motion can often improve memory. Like I said, science has said that sedentary desk jobs are the smoking of our generation, and as you move for your walking meeting, you’re integrating physical activity into your schedule without much effort.
We have created a cult around being busy, and often if work needs to get done, our physical (and maybe emotional) well-being are the first things that we allow to fall off of the priorities list. First, we should put more of a priority on our personal well-being because our professional will follow. But second, a walking meeting is a way to integrate our wellbeing into our workday without losing too much of either.
One of our Happy Successful clients started early morning walking meetings with her team members last summer as an attempt to spend quality one-on-one time without the distractions of the phone and other interruptions. She also benefitted from 45 minutes or so of movement, which was sorely lacking in her otherwise sedentary life. Two birds, one stone. Voila.
Gain a new perspective
Literally! Changing your physical surroundings is a great way to build some new mental pathways and approach a problem from a new perspective to find a solution you haven’t yet encountered.
This TED talk brings up a great point that often we think about problems with an oppositional mindset, and our setting often supports that (sitting across from someone). By changing our setting, we can work to combat our oppositional mindset and look at problems a different way.
Build on your creativity
Walking improves your circulation (see above) and circulation boosts your energy! If you are feeling stuck on a problem or need a jolt of creativity, a walking meeting/brainstorming session can be a great way to jumpstart your inspiration.
Some of our coaches here at Happy Spectacular are fans of walking sessions with our clients, as they say, that many clients get more creative when moving outside. Jodi, one of our founding coaches, remembers a time when a client came up with metaphors for his work problems by using the scenery around him, which helped blast him out of a few stuck spots. (There may or may not have been a metaphor with an ambulance involved, where her client likened his workplace situation to needing severe resuscitation. We'll never share the gory details.)
Have a tough conversation
A walking meeting can feel more personal, so if you need to give feedback or have a more difficult/nuanced conversation, your interaction can benefit from feeling a little less corporate. As we brought up in our article on giving feedback, it’s important for the person receiving the feedback to feel like you are invested in them, and a more personal/comfortable setting like a walking meeting can help facilitate that.
Walking meetings are great for brainstorming, building on creativity, and collaborating with a small team, but some research does show that when it comes to actually making a decision, we benefit more from a more traditional work setting. Keep this in mind and know what your goals are when you are scheduling your next meeting, walking or otherwise. Also, if you’ve planned an outdoor walking meeting, be sure to check the weather and have a backup location just in case it doesn’t cooperate. Whatever you do, don’t cop out and stay seated at your office.