People & Human Resources

Why you should give walking meetings a go

Eve Ash /

How many of us use an excuse to avoid exercise or exclaim pathetically “my day is too full“?  We all get the same amount of time to spend; it’s how we use that time which counts.

Walking meetings are a great, simple, straightforward concept.

Getting started

Simply grab a colleague you need to talk to and have your meeting on the go. Or make the next meeting with a few of your colleagues a walk to the nearest park — ideally around a park, or via a running track or to a an interesting end-point. 

There’s no need to change into fitness gear (though you might want to switch to runners and leave your good shoes at the office); just propose it and head off for 30 minutes or so. It’s probably best not to have your walking meeting in shopping malls with multiple distractions, but how good is it getting your Vitamin D fix and a burst of exercise while discussing meeting topics?

Many people choose to head to a café for a catch up meeting. How about going for a longer walk instead, or visiting a café further away than the one near your building?

Walking meetings may be ideal when there’s serious matters on the table, or you’re mired in a tough negotiation. Fresh air and movement can provide an ‘openness’ that can make a big difference.

Many benefits

Obviously, walking meetings are not suitable when you’re combing through reports or comparing spreadsheets. But for tossing around ideas and more frank exchanges, walking meetings are a positive strategy to counteract our inactivity and desk-bound jobs. Their benefits are many and include:

• stimulating blood flow;
• improving brain neurochemistry;
• deepening staff engagement; and
• taking people away from screens.

Walking meetings also open everyone’s eyes to what’s outside and happening in their local environment.  Too many people commute wearing earbuds, paying almost no attention to fellow travellers, let alone the traffic. Of course, we all like some privacy and self-communion, which is why some eschew the convenience of public transport, just to have that quiet time.

Not for everyone

Be aware that walking meetings may not suit some staff; it’s a good idea to flag the idea first and gauge individual and collective interest before imposing group drills in a genial-bullying kind of way. There’s no need to attach office exercise to people’s KPIs.

But you will find just about everyone is the better and more cheerful for some regular exercise. Start gradually, spontaneously and watch it catch on.

Consider lunchtime stretch classes

How about lunchtime pilates classes — another great initiative — even if the thought of colleagues doing bridges and rollovers is comical? A few simple stretches can also be great for the team.

When we make time to exercise regularly, we are doing ourselves physical, mental and emotional favours. Companies that encourage walking meetings, or any activity that kicks literal goals, are investing in staff wellbeing and health.

Take a walk. Walk the talk. Talk the walk.

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Eve Ash

Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.

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