Take your employees for a walk

Walking meetings help teams to work and communicate better 

Next time you have a team meeting think about doing it on the move as a walking meeting. It will be good for you, your colleagues and the team dynamic. Here’s why.

1. Your team will click

Sitting around a table is better than chatting on the phone. You can look at each other and pick up the non-verbal signals. But walking together is even better than a face to face sit down. You still have the non-verbal communication but you are alongside each other rather than face to face. That feels less confrontational and allows a softer, closer and more relaxed interchange. The air, the distractions of the walk and freedom to move within the walking group all further help to take the pressure off the meeting.

2. Something ‘buzzy’ will happen.

Someone (or something) will do or say something that creates a buzz. You might spot something on your walk that makes you laugh or bump into someone unexpected. One of the group might tell you something they would never have mentioned in a team sit down meeting. The informality of a walking meeting encourages a more open and honest chat.

3. “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.” (Nietzsche)

Problem solving is best done on the move. Walking helps creativity.
A Stanford University study found a person’s creativity increased by an average of 60% when people walked rather than sat. Imagine how much better your business might be if you harnessed that creativity resource. The Stanford study also suggested creative output also remained higher after walking.

4. Do more (good work) when you’re back at your desk

The Standford study also suggested a prolonged benefit, after we stop walking. It makes sense. Our heart rate increases, blood pumps and feeds the brain and muscles. After we stop, that continues for a while. We stay in the zone for a period after we get back to our desks.

A great article in the New Yorker discusses the connection between walking, thinking and writing.

“writing and walking are extremely similar feats, equal parts physical and mental. When we choose a path through a city or forest, our brain must survey the surrounding environment, construct a mental map of the world, settle on a way forward, and translate that plan into a series of footsteps. Likewise, writing forces the brain to review its own landscape, plot a course through that mental terrain, and transcribe the resulting trail of thoughts by guiding the hands.”

5. People will want to do it again

People will want to do it again. Okay, maybe not everyone (at first) but most people. How many times are you sat in a board room waiting for a colleague to arrive. People phoning said colleagues desk…is X coming…where’s Y. People arriving late, or not at all. People having to leave early. All signs people don’t value the meeting and don’t want to be there.
Walking meetings can help you to get the whole team to the meeting, on time, engaged for the whole meeting.

6. It’s free

Assuming toll bridges and coffee shops are avoided!

Inspired you to have a team meeting on the move?  I hope so. Post a comment below on how you got on.

More Articles: Walking meeting tips 

 

 

Five steps to a successful walking meeting

 

  1. Have an agenda. This is a real meeting, not a skive. The aim is get out there and spark ideas, make decisions and take action as a result. So agree what you want the meeting to achieve and stick to it (like you would with any meeting). On my walks, for example, a client could have a specific problem they are looking for legal advice on, while others want to discuss a wider issue, such as a new business strategy.
  2.  Set a time limit. Not everyone is step-obsessed and what you want is a collaborative, motivating discussion while walking, not a competitive hike. So, keep the route to an easy 30 minutes or so; you can achieve a lot in that time and no one gets bored (or too tired).
  3. Invite a few people but not the whole team. If you’re walking along a hugely hectic, crowded street, then a one-on-one meeting is best. Generally speaking, though, whether you’re in the urban sprawl or a rural idyll, a walking meeting works well for groups of around four or five people at a time.
  4. Local knowledge. Aside from the huge physical and mental health benefits of walking, one of the joys of getting your steps in, is being better acquainted with your local area. Research a few facts (knowing the best coffee shop en route goes down well) and point out anything of interest, as this can inspire ideas and keep the walk interesting.
  5. Keep going. When you first ask people to go for a walking meeting, you may meet resistance. You’re that super-active colleague who actually crosses the office to speak to people instead of emailing them and takes the stairs instead of the lift. But if you regularly walk at work (and you’re energised and productive as a result) you’ll feel and look fitter and healthier. Won’t be long until everyone will want to join in.