The worlds of business meetings and exercise have never been correlated after decades of meetings taking place around giant tables loaded with paperwork and doughnuts. Many companies still adhere to this philosophy and end up with mediocre results when it comes to producing anything overly productive. It’s because the image of the meeting has become one of drudgery and a waste of time when employees could be using that time for something else.
One way companies are starting to shake up the image of the meeting is by creating a walking meeting. In this scenario, everyone in the company goes for a vigorous stroll in a nearby area to discuss critical points without inciting boredom. Yet, despite the simplicity of the concept, you still have to plan things out in advance based on the size of the meeting, what’s going to be said, and how private it’s really going to be.
How Do Walking Meetings Inspire Ideas?
Any kind of physical activity that gets your entire staff moving around is going to help incite ideas that ordinarily wouldn’t happen when sitting apathetically around a desk. The best time to do a walking meeting is in the morning when the air is fresh and people are basically more alert. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t also do afternoon walks to help prevent the tiredness many employees start feeling by mid-afternoon.
When you are walking, you should consider walking side by side to give a symbolism to the idea that nobody is better than anyone else. In the standard meeting setting, the boss will be at the head of the table while employees are seated in an almost hierarchical way that’s intimidating. The equal sharing of ideas is what the walking meeting is all about, and the exercising does double duty to invigorate lucid thinking.
How Do Walking Meetings Vary Based on Size?
A walking meeting can consist of just two people, or a large group. In the latter sense, you’re going to have to plan out your route so it doesn’t look strange that a group of people are walking through a neighborhood. Obviously, walking in busy neighborhood might be a problem, even if some walking meetings do this out of having no other locations to walk. Just be sure to respect the privacy of homes as you walk by.
The best location for a large walking meeting is going to be in a local park. Even if that means having to walk a longer distance to get there, it might be beneficial so you have natural surroundings rather than obstructive distractions. Walking along a busy road with considerable car traffic obviously isn’t going to be practical either based on the danger and the noise level.
Planning a Level of Privacy
A major concern for many companies today is when staff discusses private trade secrets or other information that’s a bit sensitive. If you’ll be discussing trade secrets or something overly private, a walking meeting might be a bit risky if your competitors hire spies to scope out what you’re saying. Even when walking in an urban neighborhood, someone could overhear what you’re saying from inside their garage or home without you even knowing they’re listening. It could be a competitor that uses the information against you.
You may want to hold a meeting inside just for the overly private conversations, and leave real brainstorming for practical solutions for the outdoors.
As part of your final planning, you’re going to have to plan for the weather where you are. Depending on the point of view of your employees, walking in the rain might be invigorating. Considering some parts of the country get rain for at least six months out of the year, you’re going to have to work around that if you want walking meetings to be effective. Spring and summer, though, should be your top goals for getting everyone out there and managing a steady stream of ideas without fighting over car engines or being tempted to eat sugary foods.