Sitting too long can be unhealthy, but so can standing for too long. According to Alan Hedge, a professor in the Department of Design and Environment Analysis at Cornell University, standing for extended periods of time can contribute to other issues.
Hedge says it can compress the spine and lead to lower back problems over time. It can also increase the risk for varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis, and other cardiovascular problems since the heart has to work against gravity to keep blood flowing up from your toe.[mfn referencenumber=1] Medaris, A. M. (2017, December 4). Is your standing desk doing more harm than good? Retrieved February 7, 2019, from U.S. News and World Report website: https://health.usnews.com/wellness/articles/2017-12-04/is-your-standing-desk-doing-more-harm-than-good. [/mfn] The key is to balance sitting and standing with being active. One solution is the walking meeting.
What are walking meetings?
Walking meetings are not a break from work. They’re just a different way to work. During a walking meeting, people get away from their desks to discuss projects they are working on.
These moving meetings are a way for employees to come together and get active—while being productive. People can still jot down important points while walking, and they are free from distractions like cell phones and laptops. There certainly is something to be said for the effectiveness of walking meetings; the likes of leading tech giants like Apple, Facebook, and Twitter are said to use them. [mfn referencenumber=2] Ko, V. (2013, March 20). Let's take a walk: A push for meetings on the move. Retrieved February 7, 2019, from CNN website: www.cnn.com/2013/03/20/business/walking-meetings/index.html. [/mfn]
Do walking meetings work?
They allow employees to unplug and be more creative. Because they are relatively distraction free, they can encourage more direct, honest conversations. In fact, a study by Harvard Business Review found that those who participate in walking meetings are[mfn referencenumber=3] Clayton, R., Thomas, C., Smothers, J. (2015, August 5). How to do walking meetings right. Retrieved February 7, 2019, from Harvard Business Review website: https://hbr.org/2015/08/how-to-do-walking-meetings-right. [/mfn]
- 5.25 percent more likely to report being creative at their jobs than those who do not.
- 8.5 percent more likely to report high levels of engagement.
While walking meetings can spur creativity by as much as 60 percent, they may not work as well in other instances.[mfn referencenumber=4] Goldin, K. (2018, April 20). Why meetings on the move should be the new normal (and how to ensure they're productive). Retrieved February 7, 2019, from Forbes website: www.forbes.com/sites/karagoldin/2018/04/20/why-meetings-on-the-move-should-be-the-new-normal-and-how-to-ensure-theyre-productive/#4aa61e615668. [/mfn] Research suggests that more traditional meetings may work better when teams need to come to a consensus.[mfn referencenumber=3] Clayton, R., Thomas, C., Smothers, J. (2015, August 5). How to do walking meetings right. Retrieved February 7, 2019, from Harvard Business Review website: https://hbr.org/2015/08/how-to-do-walking-meetings-right. [/mfn]
If walking meetings aren’t a fit for your organization, you should ensure each employee’s workstation ergonomics are in order. Doing so can stave off lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and eyestrain.
Walk the walk
These steps can help a walking meeting stay on track[mfn referencenumber=4] Goldin, K. (2018, April 20). Why meetings on the move should be the new normal (and how to ensure they're productive). Retrieved February 7, 2019, from Forbes website: www.forbes.com/sites/karagoldin/2018/04/20/why-meetings-on-the-move-should-be-the-new-normal-and-how-to-ensure-theyre-productive/#4aa61e615668. [/mfn]:
1. One-on-one works best.
It can be difficult to effectively communicate with multiple people when walking side by side, so keep walking meetings to two people.
2. Use a route.
Planning in advance can help keep the meeting to a desired length. A route can be helpful when it comes to considering the other attendee’s fitness level. That said, it’s OK to sit for a few minutes and rest if you need to.
3. Prep so you’re productive.
Look at documents relevant to the discussion before the walk. Keep these documents simple, though. Don’t expect someone to memorize the details of a long presentation for a short walk.
4. Know that quiet is OK.
Silence can be golden during a walking meeting because it gives people time to process what’s being said and respond thoughtfully. Don’t talk just for the sake of talking. Embrace the quiet time to take a breath.
5. Follow through quickly.
Right after the walk, take down notes on what was discussed before you answer emails or voicemails. You want to keep the important details fresh in your mind, so you don’t forget all the great ideas you came up with.
Walking can work wonders for creativity and productivity. Encourage employees to meet in open spaces rather than conference rooms whenever possible. They’ll welcome the change, and you might be surprised at the ideas that come out of these outings.