The Meeting You Should Have Every Day
World famous organisational success aside, there’s one thing Apple’s Steve Jobs, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner all have in common – a penchant for walking meetings.
Brainstorming on the go has been found to stimulate creativity, increase productivity and enhance employee health and wellbeing. Because walking meetings require zero additional resources, this desirable combination of results can be attained at no extra cost to the employer.
One highly cited study from Stanford University found that the mere act of walking can significantly boost creative output. Whether this activity is performed indoors or outdoors, it positively influences performance both in real time and shortly thereafter. Furthering this idea, researchers at Harvard have suggested that walking meetings produce higher levels of self-reported engagement than those which take place seated.
A growing body of anecdotal evidence does little to restrict the list of potential benefits of conducting meetings on foot. By eliminating environmental distractions like computers, adopting a change of venue allows employees to feel more focused and mentally present. Removing physical barriers like desks encourages bonding, while stripping meetings back to the bare essentials can help reduce the perceived hierarchical structures which often prevent junior members of staff from presenting their ideas.
While it is unrealistic to suggest that all meetings should be conducted in transit, when used appropriately walking meetings can have a profoundly positive effect on progressive organisations.
Tips for hosting walking meetings:
Size Matters: While it might work well for office fitness groups, the more the merrier isn’t a phrase which applies to walking meetings. Think practically. Walking amidst a sea of people will restrict communication for those on the group’s parameters. Stick to gatherings of two or three people for productive meets on the go.
Plan Your Route: Battling your way down a crowded path is no way to reduce stress or prompt innovation so chose your space wisely. Decide on the route in advance and make a point of checking the weather.
Set a Time Limit: It is generally recommended to place a cap of 30 minutes on walking meetings. Having a specific time-frame in mind will help keep the discussion on track and prevent attendees from worrying about their other priorities.
Let Your Team Know: Surprising your colleagues with a walking meeting may not go down well. Give them time to prepare by informing them that the meeting will be active upon issuing the invitation.
Have an Agenda: As with more traditional meetings, each walking meeting should have a purpose. Decide on the agenda in advance and reference it throughout to secure the desired result.
Evaluate: Upon returning to the office, take a few minutes to make note of what was discussed and reflect upon the success of your time in the great outdoors.