Who thinks meetings need to take place in an office? Not us! We are big fans of walking meetings here at The List… in fact, it’s how this whole thing started for us! Here's why we think everyone should join our movement - pun intended! - and trade the boardroom for a healthier alternative.
We all know we should move more, but that’s sometimes easier said than done if your working day is all consuming. And of course much of your work may need to be done at a desk or a designated workspace, depending on what you do. But everyone has meetings at some point, right? So, why not break from tradition and take it outside?
Office workers spend 75% of their waking hours sitting down and this excessive sitting is being dubbed the ‘new smoking’, so we definitely need to rethink our working practices. By taking a different approach and walking for just half an hour a day, you can significantly reduce your risks of heart disease, certain types of cancers, dementia… the list goes on!
A recent survey asked people in Guernsey about their wellbeing, including their experience of stress and anxiety over the past year. Of those who reported a moderate or large amount of stress or anxiety in their lives, 46% said that the cause of their stress was work.
We know that walking releases mood-boosting endorphins, the body’s ‘happy hormones’, and that spending time outside reduces stress so maybe it’s time to make walking meetings a regular part of our working life. It’s a chance to physically step away from the constant calls and emails so you can properly ‘unplug’ and focus only on the meeting at hand. Fewer distractions, more inspiration. It's a win, win!
Research shows that the physical act of walking leads to an increase in creative thinking. Moving around more, with a change of scenery thrown in for good measure, can help you to think outside the box and to see things in a more creative light. And the effect continues when the walk is over and you return to the office.
Creative thinking is associated with more productive meetings, with more flexible thinking and better problem solving abilities. Our brains work differently in walking meetings because of the chemical changes that are triggered when we are outdoors and when we are moving around more. Quite simply, that Eureka! moment is much more likely to hit you when you are in a walking meeting as opposed to when you’re sitting at your desk.
Meetings that take place away from the office, especially walking meetings, can break down barriers, making them feel less hierarchical and less intimidating. Let’s face it, we’ve all been there - dreading the call to go into the boss’s office, even if it’s just for a routine reporting meeting. By walking side-by-side in a less formal setting, people are more at ease and it’s easier to be more open and honest.
Workplace get togethers and lunchtime chats can take place outdoors too. Why not break up your working day by heading out for a catch up with a colleague at lunchtime? Plan a regular weekly half hour stroll together, or take a walk by yourself to gather your thoughts on your break. You’ll come back refreshed and you’ll be much more alert than if you had stayed sitting at your desk all day.
Research has shown that there are lots of benefits to having a physically active workforce, including reduced sickness absence, increased productivity and greater staff retention, and it’s a cost-effective way to support team building and networking in a more informal setting. Workplace Walking is a great place to start if you want to get your management team on board with this concept. All employers want to see high productivity, and what better way to do this than by nurturing a healthy and committed team who want to stay with a company that has a reputation as a good employer.
We’re not suggesting that all meetings can be walking meetings, but if you set the agenda in advance and you could take notes along the way - bullet points on your tablet or voice notes on your phone will do - you can make them work for you personally and professionally.
One final tip… be sure to plan walking meetings in advance. Nobody wants to walk in heels - or in the rain!
When it comes to living more sustainably, lots of small changes can have a big impact on our wellbeing and our local environment. As Guernsey Electricity moves forwards with plans for a more sustainable future for our island, they share some ideas with us on how to live a greener life.