Steve Jobs was a massive advocate of the walking meeting, preferring to meet people for the first time on foot. His biographer even said that the best method to extract information from Jobs was by taking a walk with him. Yet, despite Jobs' advocacy, and the fact that businesses and individuals are becomingly increasingly aware of the benefits of short breaks from our desks, the idea of working-on-the-go still hasn’t really taken hold.
Well, that’s a shame, because not only are walking meetings conducive to honest exchanges of information, and a clearly more effective use of our time than traditional sit-down meetings, but research has also found that the actual physical act of walking promotes an increase in creative thinking.
Therefore, not only are we being efficient with time, we would also be fuelling the production of ideas!
In fact, the benefits of engaging in walking meetings are plentiful; to begin with, there are few more daunting scenarios than presenting an idea in a meeting while countless sets of eyes burn their way into your soul. Psychologically speaking, we produce better ideas while not engaging in direct eye contact as the human brain is too tuned in to the reactions of the person we are speaking to in order to think clearly. However, in a walking meeting, you are conducting a discursive side by side with your colleagues or employer, giving you the chance to think clearly and accurately. Walking side by side also reduces hierarchical distinctions, putting employee’s at ease and helping those neurons to fire freely.
Then there’s the clear physical benefits of walking meetings; we spend 75% of our working hours sitting, and walking is a form of exercise that most people can partake in which can be performed at any time of the day. It increases the release of endorphins, the happiness hormone, leading to a greater sense of well-being overall, not just in work. In fact, the Centre’s for Disease Control and Prevention promote practicing moderate exercise for at least 15 minutes a day in order to increase life expectancy up to three years.
There you have it - walking meetings will not only increase productivity, but they’ll actually help you to live longer.
Walking meetings are so in trend at the moment, that the Harvard Business Review took it upon themselves to conduct a survey of the benefits associated with the walking-and-talking approach to productivity.
After surveying approximately 150 adults, they found that those who participate in walking meetings reported a 5.25% increase in creativity in their jobs than those who do not. Furthermore, people who engage in walking meetings are also more likely to report a subsequent increase in their levels of engagement.
Well then, it’s quite well established that walking meetings are a no-brainer in terms of efficiency, yet most businesses still aren’t choosing to engage in them. Perhaps if given some rough guidelines, we can break down the potential mental barriers to engaging in meetings of this format.
Top tips for conducting a walking meeting
Whereas not every important issue in a workplace will suit a walking meeting format, it is an incredibly practical way of using the most in demand resource available to us – time. So, get those trainers out of the rucksack under your desk, and start limbering up – we’re going for a walk.