Thinking On Your Feet: The Case For Walking Meetings

Walking meetings can help prevent burnout and sedentary behavior, while improving creative thinking.  

Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

This article was originally published by Allwork.Space.

Ever feel like meetings drag on and your team is covering the same topics over and over again? You’re not alone. Most workers have a love-hate relationship with meetings.

And our current reliance on videoconferencing platforms like Zoom to host meetings has only made them more dreadful for many. Zoom fatigue is real and the effectiveness of virtual meetings and brainstorming sessions remains to be determined.

One potential solution?

Walking.

The Case for Mobile Meetings

A research report from Stanford found that walking increases creative ideation. According to the report, “the effect is not simply due to the increased perceptual stimulation of moving through an environment, but rather it is due to walking.”

This means that effects of walking on creative thinking are experienced regardless of whether you walk in a park, on a treadmill, or in circles around your desk.

What’s more, the report found that “walking improves the generation of novel yet appropriate ideas, and the effect even extends to when people sit down to do their creative work shortly after.”

Mobile Meetings: Remote and in-Office

Hosting mobile meetings may be easier to do in an office setting; all participants can take a walk together as they tackle the meeting agenda. This may be easier to do for smaller meetings (5 people or less).

With larger groups, it may be harder for everyone to walk around together and still be able to hear what others are saying.

For remote workers, mobile meetings may be trickier to implement, especially if your company has a mandatory video policy for virtual meetings—ensuring good video quality while walking around is not only tricky, but it could potentially distract attendees that are sitting in an office chair.

Those who can choose whether or not they use video can easily start participating in meetings while taking a stroll outside.

Remote Workers Stand to Benefit the Most

After over a year of working remotely and participating in virtual meetings nonstop—hunched over their couches, beds, or dining room chairs—many workers are feeling burnt out, isolated, stressed, and anxious.

Having the opportunity to step outside, stretch their legs, and participate in meetings while walking can not only prevent screen fatigue and improve the physical and mental wellbeing of workers, but it can also lead to more effective meetings—especially if there’s any brainstorming involved.

It can provide remote workers with a much-needed change of scenery, especially if they plan to continue working remotely long-term.

Walking Meetings Can Help Combat Sedentary Behavior

Whether they’re at home or in the office, walking meetings can help workers combat sedentary behavior.

Research has found that “greater time spent in sedentary behavior is associated with all-cause and cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in adults.” This is a concerning issue considering that the World Health Organization (WHO) has reported a worldwide trend in insufficient physical activity.

Over the past few years, some employers have turned to workplace design in the hopes of encouraging physical activity in the workplace.

Walking meetings can be an effective approach to get people on their feet and moving throughout the work day, while also providing business benefits.

Potential Challenges for Walking Meetings

For those working remotely, there may be some challenges associated with participating in walking meetings:

  • Generating enough interest from participants to engage in walking meetings.
  • Choppy internet connection as people walk from one place to another.
  • Background noises (especially for those who walk outside in windy days).
  • Difficulty in taking meeting notes.

While there are some potential barriers that can make it harder for workers to make the switch to walking meetings, there is no denying that walking is better than sitting.

It may take some time to dethrone the standard behavior, but walking meetings are a thing—they’re already a thing. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sundar Pichai are just a handful of CEOs that have used walking as a way to power and improve their meetings.

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