Many professionals spend hours and hours in meetings. This essay gives a healthy option to boring office meetings. Going for a lunch or taking a cup of coffee with a colleague or mentor is nice, but instead of giving us professional energy it gives us calories. Walking meeting is healthy, productive and makes us more creative.
When we are sitting full office hours in front of computer screens and have endless meetings and negotiations it takes time and space to get the necessary daily exercise. Over the years meeting cultures take a toll on our personal health and energy levels. This impacts also company performance. So, why not combine health and professional benefits by walking the talk?
I have found that walking meetings are good for energy and creativity. That is also backed up by science. A teams, meet or zoom meeting gives a different kind of fatigue. The virtual meeting is lacking some basic human to human interactions and also physical activity.
Instead of organizing your next Teams meeting, should you consider a Walks meeting? Or when participating in the next online meeting, just plug in and take a walk? Give it a try and you will see increase in creativity and productivity.
Research based creative movement
A walking meeting aims to create a movement of mind and body. It unplugs us from the tired office culture and wires our brains with chemicals that uplift our creativity. Research from Stanford University by Oppezzo and Schwats (2014) has shown that the act of walking actually increases creative thinking. So, give your ideas some legs and create a positive impact to meetings by walking.
To briefly summarize some of the positive results of walking meetings: Physical activity increases cognition, makes us think better. As much as 80% of people said that they were more creative when walking. Walking can also increase individual creative problem solving by 50%. Benefits are significant for both indoors and outdoors.
In another study by HBR 5,25% of increase in creativity was measured. Moreover walking can provide more honest exchange of information and be more productive. Brains are more relaxed in walking meetings because of certain chemicals. This changes how we focus on tasks and deal with unforeseen events. The spark of creativity just hits us when taking a walk. So why not take that as integral part of your organisation innovation culture?
Sometimes you need a whiteboard, or notes. Be prepared and practice for successful walking meetings. Best meeting topics are exploratory innovation and releated issues and managerial and professional problem solving. Perhaps taking a walk does not improve administrative work? At least you could give it a try.
WAlk this way
Here are a few tips on how to make Walks meeting work for you.
- Just walk. Avoid taking a destination where you eat or drink, so no lunch or coffee meeting after or during walks. This undermines the health impact if you end up with to a calorie bomb that destroys the benefit.
- Do not surprise colleagues. Let them know that the meeting will be a walking meeting. Notify in advance to be properly prapared with confortable shoes – and no powerpoints. A waterbottle is much better than laptop if its hot.
- Keep it small. Maximum of 3 people in a walks meeting to keep the discussion focused. Having more people onboard will make it hard to hear what others are saying.
- Walk online. An option for a larger group is to do the walking meeting it online. Just open the meeting and plug in with a phone, headset and a power bank. Everyone can enjoy the nature and get exercise while attending. This also goes really well with distributed teams. Why a settle for a stand-up meeting when you can take a walk?
Walking meetings help in creative thinking, spending less time time sitting in front of a computer and you can enjoy with health benefits by exercise and get a breath of fresh air.
Interested? Sign up for a Propellerhat ® Walks meeting on topics related to innovation and leadership.
Scientific sources: Give Your Ideas Some Legs: The Positive Effect of Walking on Creative Thinking, Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz Stanford University, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 2014 Vol. 40, No. 4, 1142–1152