Walking Meetings: The Perfect Blend of Work and Wellbeing
Walking meetings are changing the way we think about traditional sit-down discussions and meetings.
In the busy world of work, merging physical activity with productive conversations offers a refreshing approach.
This innovative concept not only champions our physical wellbeing but also paves the way for more engaging and imaginative conversations.
As a wellbeing speaker, and someone who likes to take walking meetings I’m excited to write about this meeting style and it’s range of benefits.
What are Walking Meetings?
Walking meetings, as the name suggests, are meetings conducted while walking.
Instead of sitting around a conference table or being confined to an office, participants engage in discussions while walking, usually outdoors.
The idea is simple: combine the act of walking with the task of talking about whatever is scheduled for the meeting.
This approach breaks the traditional mould of stationary meetings and introduces a dynamic element to everyday discussions.
Whether it’s a one-on-one chat about a project update or a brainstorming session with a small team, walking meetings infuse energy, spontaneity, and a breath of fresh air into the conversation.
The Benefits of Walking Meetings
Walking meetings come packed with a range of benefits that cater to both our mental and physical wellbeing:
The act of walking stimulates our brain, leading to increased creativity.
The change in environment and the rhythmic pace of walking can spark new ideas and innovative solutions.
Walking side-by-side creates a more relaxed and informal atmosphere.
This can lead to more open, honest, and collaborative discussions.
It’s no secret that walking is good for our health.
From improving cardiovascular health to burning calories, walking meetings encourage a more active lifestyle.
Nature and movement have therapeutic effects.
Walking can improve mood, reduce stress, and increase feelings of relaxation.
Stepping out of the usual office setting can be a refreshing change, breaking the monotony of regular meetings and re-energizing participants.
Without the distractions of phones ringing or emails popping up, participants can be more present and focused on the discussion at hand.
Strolling discussions can nurture stronger personal connections.
The informal setting can lead to more personal conversations, strengthening bonds between colleagues.
Incorporating walking meetings into your routine can be a game-changer, offering a holistic approach to work discussions while prioritising health and wellbeing.
Walking Meetings in the Age of Remote Work
The rise of remote work has reshaped many aspects of our professional lives, and meetings are no exception.
While remote work offers flexibility, it also brings challenges like feelings of isolation and the monotony of back-to-back virtual meetings.
Here’s where walking meetings can play a transformative role:
Combatting Zoom Fatigue
With the surge in video calls, many of us experience ‘Zoom fatigue.’
Walking meetings provide a welcome break from staring at screens, helping reduce digital burnout.
Promoting Work-Life Balance
For remote workers, the boundaries between work and personal life can blur.
A walking meeting can serve as a structured activity that promotes a healthy work-life balance, allowing for a mental break and physical activity.
Virtual Walking Meetings
While in-person walking meetings might be ideal, remote teams can still benefit.
Participants can walk in their respective locations while connected via a call.
This way, everyone gets the benefits of walking, even if they’re miles apart.
Enhancing Mental Health
Remote work can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation.
Walking, especially in nature, can combat feelings of loneliness and improve overall mental wellbeing.
Building Team Cohesion
Even in a remote setting, walking meetings can foster a sense of camaraderie.
Sharing experiences of one’s walking environment, be it a cityscape or a countryside trail, can lead to more personal and bonding conversations.
Flexibility and Inclusivity
Not everyone might be in a position to walk outside, but that doesn’t mean they can’t participate.
Those who prefer can walk indoors, on a treadmill (if possible), or even just find a quiet space to stand and stretch.
Supporting the wellbeing of remote workers is just as important as those in the office.
Remote walking meetings offer a unique blend of flexibility, wellbeing, and engagement.
They show that even in our tech-driven world, simple actions focused on people can make a big difference.
Tips for Conducting a Successful Walking Meeting
Conducting a walking meeting might seem straightforward, but to ensure it’s both productive and enjoyable, consider the following tips:
Set a Clear Agenda
Before you start walking, make sure all participants are aware of the meeting’s purpose.
A clear agenda ensures the conversation stays on track and objectives are met.
Choose the Right Route
Opt for a quiet, safe path that’s free from heavy traffic or loud noises.
Parks, walking trails, or quiet streets are ideal.
The route should allow for easy conversation without constant interruptions.
Comfort is key.
Encourage participants to wear suitable footwear and attire, considering the weather and walking terrain.
Limit the Group Size
For effective communication, it’s best to keep the group small.
One-on-one or small group meetings are ideal for walking discussions.
While the environment might be distracting, it’s essential to stay focused on the meeting’s purpose.
Active listening and engagement are crucial.
Respect Traffic Rules
If you’re walking in an urban setting, always be aware of traffic signals and pedestrian crossings.
Safety should always be a priority.
Remember that not everyone may be able to walk for extended periods.
Always check with participants beforehand and consider alternatives like shorter routes or seated breaks.
Use Tech Wisely
If you’re conducting a virtual meeting, ensure you have a stable internet connection and headphones to minimize background noise.
Wrap Up with Action Items
Conclude the meeting by summarising key points and outlining the next steps.
This ensures clarity and direction post-meeting.
Walking meetings are a fantastic way to infuse energy into discussions.
With the right approach and preparation, they can be a valuable addition to any professional’s toolkit, promoting both productivity and wellbeing.
Drawbacks to Walking Meetings
While walking meetings offer numerous benefits, they also come with certain challenges.
Here are some potential drawbacks to consider:
Unlike indoor meetings, walking meetings are subject to weather conditions.
Rain, extreme heat, or cold can disrupt plans.
It’s challenging to take notes or refer to documents while walking, which might be essential for some discussions.
Discussing sensitive or confidential topics can be risky in public spaces where conversations might be overheard.
Not everyone may be comfortable or able to walk for extended periods, making it essential to consider participants’ physical abilities.
Outdoor environments can be full of distractions, from traffic noise to other pedestrians, which might interrupt the flow of conversation.
Lack of Visual Aids
Walking outside doesn’t allow for presentations, whiteboards, or visual aids, which can be crucial for certain topics.
Walking meetings might take longer than traditional ones, especially if the walking route is long.
For virtual walking meetings, there’s a risk of poor internet connection or technical glitches if participants are relying on mobile data.
Depending on the location, there might be concerns about traffic, uneven pathways, or poorly lit areas.
Not all locations might be wheelchair accessible, which can pose challenges for inclusivity.
While walking meetings are a refreshing change from the norm, it’s essential to weigh these potential challenges against the benefits and plan accordingly.
This helps to ensure a productive and enjoyable experience for all participants.
Overall, taking a nice walk while having a meeting offers a refreshing change from traditional meetings.
They infuse energy, creativity, and wellbeing into our work routines.
While they come with their set of challenges, the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks.
At Loving Life, we help companies support the health and wellbeing of their employees through our employee wellbeing services.
For more information, get in touch.
Tyler Lowe – Health & Wellbeing Speaker
BSc Sport & Exercise Rehabilitation