Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerburg, and Aristotle are a few of the most recognized names in history. Do you know what they have in common? Walking meetings. These famous, creative minds used meetings to talk, teach, and think. The benefits of walking meetings were not lost on these well-known leaders, so what can we learn from them?
If you need to brainstorm multiple solutions to a problem, the benefits of walking meetings are clear. In alternative use studies, experiments that require coming up with creative uses for a product or service, participant creativity soared when compared to those sitting in a traditional meeting space. The number of solutions generated was markedly higher as brainstorming flowed freely. The simple act of walking itself boosts creativity during and after walking. When it’s time to narrow the solutions and reach a consensus, however, walking meetings are less effective. Know the purpose of your meeting before selecting your location.
Not only is creativity boosted through walking meetings, but productivity is as well. Generally, a higher level of preparation is needed going into the meeting since notes aren’t as readily available, so participants have to be more prepared. Add to the extra prep the change of environment, the more collaborative approach, and the engagement with one another and better results follow. The residual benefit of walking meetings is the productivity that comes on the heels of the meeting. Creativity continues, as does the ability to focus with improved energy.
In one of the same alternative use studies, those who walked outside had higher levels of creativity than those who walked on an indoor treadmill, sat in a conference room, or were rolled outside in a wheelchair. The combination of fresh air and movement increase the benefits of walking meetings. Fresh air gives you more energy and a sharper mind. Oxygen consumption leads to better levels of concentration and brain functioning, plus a much needed boost of Vitamin D. If an outdoor meeting is on your schedule, have a backup plan if the weather doesn’t cooperate or plan to dress appropriately if you are planning to walk rain or shine.
Sitting is the norm for the duration of the workday. Taking breaks to stand and move more frequently is one of the additional benefits of walking meetings. Productivity doesn’t change but the venue does. By increasing movement during the day, physical wellbeing improves and emotional wellbeing follows as a result of the fresh air and the boost of mood and energy that comes from activity. Lower healthcare costs are an added benefit to organizations that regularly use walking meetings to improve employee health.
Collaboration & Connection
As co-workers engage in a less formal conversation, the boundaries and barriers of traditional meetings slip away. Walking meetings tend to be more personal and interactive. It’s been suggested that when executives and employees walk side by side, hierarchical boundaries virtually disappear. Gallup reports that employees report feeling more engaged in their organization and have higher levels of wellbeing when they have a best friend at work. Walking meetings build bridges and bonds. Social wellbeing is one of the strong benefits of walking meetings.
The multifaceted benefits of walking meetings should encourage more organizations to adopt them as a part of their company culture. As they do, they will discover the increased creativity, productivity, and engagement that comes as a result of this under-utilized experience. And maybe you’ll unexpectedly unleash the next genius hiding inside your company walls!