Thinking, talking and walking are all naturally linked, so engaging in this trio at work is a great idea. Aristotle, Kant, Wordsworth, Steve Jobs and more figures have famously endorsed the benefits of walking.
“Being away from computers usually means that the conversations are more theoretical in nature or have to do with the human element of an issue, problem or concern in the workplace,” said Robert Manigold, a partner at web and app development agency Code Koalas in Kansas City, Mo.
Walking meetings don’t have to be a huge commitment. In fact, they are more than worth the small amount of time they usually take. Mental and physical health, immediate energy boost, and enhanced creativity and inspiration are just some of the reasons to make this practice a habit. If this unfamiliar territory, follow these guidelines and you’ll be strolling during meetings in no time.
5 Main Benefits
- Easy physical activity which is beneficial to general health and immediately elevates mood.
- New settings promote inspiration and clarity.
- In a relaxed setting, hierarchy dissolves, putting employees at ease and allowing them to open up and connect.
- A shared activity strengthens work relationships and fosters a group identity and camaraderie.
- Unlike the traditional meeting, there’s no risk of wasting time as walking is always constructive.
Obstacles & Solutions
Address these potential pitfalls with quick-fix solutions
Obstacle: Noise and distractions from the surrounding location
Solution: Carefully consider your location in advance. If an issue occurs en route, simply change directions or locations. For instance, you can always enter a coffee shop if a city street becomes too distracting. Plus, your team will get a lesson in adaptability.
Obstacle: Variations in walking pace
Solution: Be attuned to the people around you. If you’re with a big group, try to let mini-groups form naturally.
Obstacle: Taking notes
Solution: There are a variety of useful note-taking apps available, such as Evernote and Simplenote. If a smart phone is not a viable option, purchase a small notebook.
Obstacle: Covering all topics
Solution: Have a general itinerary in mind before the walk and use time and/or location benchmarks to guide discussion.
Obstacle: Cell phone use
Solution: Before the meeting begins, kindly discourage cell phone use—unless it’s for note-taking. Often people will feel more comfortable taking out their phones in this relaxed setting. However, if the tone is set and the expectation is clear, it can be avoided.
Before hitting the trail, street or hallway, keep these tips in mind.
- Limit spontaneous meetings to four people. Large groups work too, but require extra planning.
- If it’s convenient, add a destination to your walk, whether to get an errand out of the way or take in a special view.
- To encourage participation early on, try incentivizing. For example, offer coffee during the first outing.
- Try to keep walking meetings to 30 minutes or less. Most people find it tiresome after that.
- Be selective about the route, and determine start and end points. This will help with organization and time management.
- Consider external factors that will shape your walk, such as the season and time of day.
- As with a standard meeting, evaluate the process and discussion afterward.
- Don’t pressure others into joining the walking meeting; that ruins the central purpose. Instead, present it as completely voluntary and try to let people know ahead of time.
- Remember: This it is supposed to be a somewhat casual experience. Enjoy it!