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Does your organisation have a heavy meetings culture? Does that mean you’re sedentary for most of the day? There is another way…
Walking meetings are growing in popularity as a way to both achieve your meeting goals and improve daily wellbeing. We look at the advantages of embracing this in your working life.
One of the worrying effects of the new online meeting culture is that we don’t even have to leave our desks to meet our colleagues. Before today’s hybrid working culture, we might at least have had to walk to a different floor to collaborate.
Now, it’s all too easy to sit in front of a screen for all eight hours of your working day – or more. So could walking meetings be a realistic antidote?
The book Walk your meeting by Martine de Vaan draws on data that shows an important relationship between exercise and brain growth. It’s no secret that mobility and exercise are clearly better for us than sitting still for hours on end. But if you can find a space to walk in nature, you may also notice improved collaboration and greater creativity.
Martine de Vaan is an Innovation Manager at the Dutch Central Government Real Estate Agency. She recommends that offices map out their area and different lengths of walks to support people in working outside.
Research suggests that walking meetings increase creativity by around 80%, with specific benefits in terms of thinking freely and openly, without constraint.
Walking can also help boost working relationships – the more informal atmosphere in walking together allows us to relax and be more authentic. Not facing one another is a less intense dynamic, which often means you can discuss more difficult topics with less awkwardness.
Plus, there is also an enormous physical benefit. We all know that we’re meant to move more, and so many of us rely on watches and fitness apps to measure our daily step count and activity levels. A walking meeting TED talk went so far as to say that sitting has become ‘the smoking of our generation’.
The challenge is always to fit that activity around all our other life commitments. If we can embed it into how we work, there’s so much to be gained.
Walking meetings aren’t suitable for every situation. They’re ideal for two or three colleagues, where you won’t need to share a screen or write elaborate notes.
You can also do a walking meeting remotely, via Teams or Facetime – although it’s best to go audio-only to avoid any mishaps.
A walking meeting is ideal for a one-to-one catch up with a member of your team, where they can update you on what they’re doing and seek your input.
The environment for your meeting is also important. While the ideal is a walk in a natural setting or a park, an urban location can also be good for a walk. But some settings are less than inspiring, such as an industrial park or next to a noisy, busy road. Not sure if walking meetings are for you? Just give it a try. With the right setting, topic and colleague, you’re sure to find it an energising experience.