As research continues to show the long-term health dangers of sitting for extended periods of time, more professionals are finding ways to get moving during the work day. One option is the walking meeting, where employees walk while they talk. In addition to the positive impacts on health, mobile meetings offer a host of other benefits for managers and employers.
Americans spend a significant proportion of their work time in meetings — an average of 62 meetings per month, according to Atlassian. Most meetings take place in standard meeting venues such as offices and conference rooms. In these familiar surroundings, employees often daydream, focus on other projects and fall prey to inside-the-box thinking. A walking meeting, on the other hand, offers the chance to escape the confines of the office. In many cases, the change of scenery can spur creative thinking and help employees come up with innovative ideas that are stifled by a stuffy workplace environment. In fact, both President Barack Obama and Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg have been known to hold moving meetings in the normal course of business.
In traditional meeting venues, the boss or supervisor generally takes a place of prominence at the head of the table, with higher-level employees sitting close at hand. Lower-level employees at the end of the table may feel intimidated or unwilling to speak up. A walking meeting shifts the power dynamics by placing people side by side. A supervisor who embraces mobile meetings may find that newer employees feel more comfortable expressing ideas and making suggestions when they are not making direct eye contact. The informal setting of a walking meeting creates a friendlier, more approachable environment for employees at all levels. For this reason, walking works best for meetings of two or three people.
Modern employees stay connected to their cell phones, tablets and computers for the majority of the day, a practice that can lead to digital burnout and information overload. A walking meeting offers the chance to escape technology. The break from screens relaxes your eyes and eliminates the stress caused by constant alerts. In addition, the light physical activity promotes blood flow and loosens the muscles. Moving meetings also reduce extended periods of sitting, which are linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and poor mental health. When done on a regular basis, these meetings can help employees boost health and reduce stress. For the company, a healthier workforce translates to fewer sick days, lower insurance costs and increased productivity.
While it's not usually viable to make each meeting a walking meeting, integrating a few into your week can have far-reaching benefits. From inspiring creativity to helping employees stay healthy, mobile meetings offer an array of positive impacts for your company.
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