Are Walking Meetings Effective Meetings?
According to the National Statistics Council, 37 percent of our workday is spent in meetings. As a communication tool, meetings can provide group insights, get-to-know-you time and valuable feedback. But even though most office buildings have evolved to embrace a more comfortable, ergonomically friendly environment, the way we hold meetings have basically stayed the same. Even with the popularity of phone conferences, we still find ourselves gathered in a large, poorly lit room huddled around a big table. Instead of bonding and collaborating, most of us are just hoping Jim from accounting wraps it up quickly.
So, how do you get the benefits of a meeting and tap into the productivity of the group efficiently while still benefitting both the company and the team? In many cases, the answer lies in pushing ourselves away from the table and taking a stroll together. That’s right; we’re talking about walking meetings. It’s worth exploring the benefits of this phenomena to see if it might be right for you and your team.
5 Reasons for Walking Meetings
- Healthier employees – The health of your employees is a distinct advantage. A walking meeting gives your team the chance to stretch their legs and get the blood flowing after sitting for an extended period. As a healthy, low impact activity, walking can’t be beaten.
- Increased creativity – A burst of physical activity has been proven to trigger creative brain activity. What better time to hold a brainstorming session than when engaged in a brisk walk with your team?
- Creating a bond – A change in environment outside the office breaks down barriers that could be holding your group back. Creating a personal connection becomes effortless when there aren’t physical reminders of the company hierarchy.
- More collaboration – A change of pace, opens us up to listening to new ideas and sharing new thoughts. Larger groups can benefit just as much as smaller ones by encouraging members to stride freely and mingle between walkers. That way, everyone participates in a variety of conversations on the go.
- Elevated Productivity – There’s a reason why our smart devices are encouraging us to stand up regularly. It’s not only better for you but increases your energy. An energized group gets things done!
Creating an Active Company Culture
Walking meetings are a regular format for us at Tingalls. As part of her business philosophy, Tara Ingalls, Tingalls Graphic Design owner, encourages a balanced life and that includes during work hours too. One way she fosters balancing the stress of sitting a good part of the day among the Tingalls’ team is with a meeting on the go. We are lucky enough to be next to a beautiful 1-mile walking path that circles a local neighborhood and when the weather permits, we’ll usually schedule that meeting outside. All of us have walking shoes readily available and look forward to a break from our chair.
Walking for us creates an opportunity for relationship building. We’ve recently added a couple of new team members, and nothing pulls them into the group faster than a bit of light exercise and good conversation. Suddenly, they feel a part of the company in a way that could take weeks the old-fashioned way.
Sometimes our walking meetings might address a difficulty we are having with a design concept or something else we might be stuck on. In that case, even just the fresh air can make it seem less stressful and open a pathway to new ideas. But most often, the thinking out loud of the team realigns our thinking, and by the end, we’ll be energized with a few solutions to try.
When is the right time?
“It has to make sense,” said Tara. “If we have to take notes or have someone call in, it’s not the right time for a walk. But when we want to bounce ideas off one another or work on a specific project or just enjoy each other’s company, we’ll pull on sneakers and put the ‘be right back’ sign on the door and head out. It’s amazing the clarity you can gain from just 20-minutes of being in nature.”
Want to join us for a walking meeting? We’d love to have you. Contact us and we’ll set it up. You might be surprised how much you’ll learn – that is if you can keep up!