Almost 150 million American adults are in the workforce, and many spend a significant amount of their day at work. The worksite can offer employees access to opportunities and supports for physical activity, including walking, making it easier for them to integrate it into their daily lives. Employers have the ability to improve the health of employees and their organizations’ bottom line.
Thinking, talking, and walking are inextricably linked through history. It is only a recent idea that we meet around tables, seated in chairs. Consider how you can incorporate walking meetings into your worksite!
Purposes and Benefits of Walking Meetings
- Educate and inform: Educate about things in the environment while experiencing and demonstrating them.
- Problem solve: Problem solving can be enhanced by the physical activity of walking (“thinking on your feet”), as well as informal interactions among people.
- Enhance creativity: Creativity is enhanced when people are physically active, and stimulated by variety in events and visual, auditory, and other senses.
- Socialize and build team spirit: Relationships are developed while walking and team building occurs while involved in informal activities. The spontaneous mixing that occurs on a walk can enhance interactions.
- Make decisions: Walking meetings help prepare for decision making and can result in more options for consideration.
- Resolve conflict: Walks can help resolve conflicts for pairs and small groups. For larger groups the walk improves team interactions and helps generate solutions.
Things to Consider
Size of Walking Meeting
- One on One Meetings: Meeting as a pair tends to be easy. Walking breaks down the barrier of a desk and chair, and lets people communicate more equally.
- Small Group Meetings of 3-5: Meetings with three or more can be affected by the width of the sidewalk or path, variations in terrain, and possible physical barriers. This size group is flexible, as discussion can occur while walking, or if desired the group can stop along the walk.
- Medium Size Groups of 6-15: Meetings with larger groups tend to result in more than one conversation while walking. If the whole group is to be involved, make time to stop and gather as a whole.
- Larger Groups of 16 or More: These tend to require more planning, with a strong leader and potentially a few assistants if needed. There will be conversations while walking, then planned stops for presentations.
- Natural settings such as parks or trails
- Urban settings, which are both stimulating and convenient
- Indoors is possible given large enough hallways or spacious areas like convention centers or malls
- Attention to the route is important—avoid noisy roads
- Determine the start location, course, and finish location. The starting point can be a gathering place such as a coffee shop, school, or just an outdoor spot. The course can be set ahead of time for larger groups, or can be more spontaneous for smaller groups. Returning to the start is easiest, especially if people have driven, but it is possible to finish elsewhere if people are using transit, walking, or carpooling.
Benefits of Walking Meetings
- More physical activity that fits into the day
- Energized and more alert employees
- Different environments to inspire new ideas
- Time outdoors, in nature, and with fresh air and light
- Improved physical and mental well-being
- Walking and talking side by side cuts through hierarchical and status distinctions and sets people at ease
- Process is as helpful as product
- Problem solving can be enhanced by the physical activity of walking (“thinking on your feet”)
- Creativity is enhanced when people are physically active, and stimulated by variety in events and visual, auditory, and other senses
- Walks can help resolve conflicts for pairs and small groups. For larger groups the walk can improve team interactions