Walking meetings are a trend at many forward-thinking companies and I like the idea. My own experience is that walking and talking helps some people to feel more engaged and increases their ability to communicate.
Perhaps the physical act of walking along together also creates a stronger psychological link or sense of empathy between people?
I first noticed this when I began working with a German client whose office overlooked the Elbe River in Hamburg. When we walked to lunch at a nearby restaurant, our discussions were productive and relaxed. Ideas seemed to flow as easily as the fast-moving water in the river.
Here in Paris, it’s typical to see small groups of professionals strolling along, deep in discussion. I feel a sense of synergy between the people and to me, as communicator, that is a very positive sign. Good things come out of a meeting when people are focused, listening and actively contributing.
Nilofer Merchant posted these thoughts on the benefits of walking meetings at the Harvard Business Review blog…
“First, I can actually listen better when I am walking next to someone than when I’m across from them in some coffee shop.There’s something about being side-by-side that puts the problem or ideas before us, and us working on it together. aldldjsajd alldjslda dladjal da
Second, the simple act of moving also means the mobile device mostly stays put away. Undivided attention is perhaps today’s scarcest resource, and hiking meetings allow me to invest that resource very differently.
And, finally we almost always end the hike joyful. The number one thing I’ve heard people say (especially if they’ve resisted this kind of meeting in the past) is “That was the most creative time I’ve had in a long time” And that could be because we’re outside, or a result of walking. Research certainly suggests that walking is good for the brain.
I’ve learned that if you want to get out of the box thinking, you need to literally get out of the box.
When you step outside, you give yourself over to nature, respecting its cycles and unpredictability. It keeps me more awake to what is happening around me by experiencing the extreme heats of summer, or the frigid power of winter. It makes me present to the world around me instead of being insulated from it.”
When do you schedule a walking meeting versus a traditional sit-down meeting at your company or with clients? What positive outcomes have you noticed? Please write if you’d like to share your thoughts on this topic.