Walk It Out: How to Ask Your Boss for Outdoor Meetings
Work + Life Balance

Walk It Out: How to Ask Your Boss for Outdoor Meetings

by Ally Freed
Photos Diana Zapata | September 30, 2015

WHAT IF ONE CHANGE COULD MAKE YOUR DAILY LIFE MORE PRODUCTIVE, HAPPIER, AND HEALTHIER? WHAT IF IT DIDN'T COST A DIME? WOULD YOU DO IT?  

Thought so.

In today’s world, people sit on average 9.3 hours each day, trumping even the 7.7 hours we sleep each night (Merchant, 2013). Add to that the health consequences associated with prolonged sitting, and we’re in trouble. Most of us don’t realize the tremendous benefits we can receive from one simple change: the walking meeting.

Walking meetings are exactly as they sound: instead of sitting down in a conference room, take your 10am outside to talk. Implementing them as part of your daily routine may sound like a long shot, but you’re actually in great company. Business icons, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, found their best thinking happened on walks, far away from brightly lit conference rooms or trendy coffee shops. 

If you want to live and work better, consider proposing walking meetings to your boss. Any employer likes good solid evidence before making changes so use our list of benefits to make your case. Demonstrating the value these meetings would provide to you, your boss, and the company is the best way to approach the conversation. 

WALKING MEETINGS INCREASE CREATIVITY 

A 2014 Stanford Study found that walking both indoors and outdoors boosts creative inspiration. The main factor was the act of walking - being indoors or outdoors didn’t matter. Their research found that “creativity levels were consistently and significantly higher for those walking compared to those sitting.” Increased creativity is something that’s always beneficial in today’s dynamic business world. If you live in a climate where outdoor meetings aren’t always possible, try trading in the sidewalk for a stroll around your corporate campus or the nearest skyway. Your creative juices should start flowing with every step. 

THEY BUILD RELATIONSHIPS AND ENCOURAGE COLLABORATION

It’s easy to view problems at work as a fighter in the ring - me against you. We often trick ourselves into confronting issues with opposition rather than cooperation. Walking meetings have a profound ability to change the way we view problems. Walking side by side with your boss or coworker creates a sense of teamwork and cooperation. Nilofer Merchant, author of the TED talk, Got a Meeting? Take a Walk, says, “One thing I've noticed is how equalizing it is to be side by side, as if facing a problem together. Hierarchy and work stuff largely goes out the door when you're wearing sneakers and sweating together.”

OH, AND THEY'RE LOADED WITH BENEFITS

Walking meetings also provide the added benefits of undivided attention and a better mood. When walking, technological distractions largely vanish (just make sure to silence your phones). Since undivided attention is a precious resource in today’s workplace, the walking meeting allows for that resource to be invested in a focused, productive way. 

And Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods was on to something when she said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Walking, or any form of exercise for that matter, creates a reaction in the body that produces endorphins and leads to feelings of euphoria. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t like a little more euphoria at work? 

DID WE MENTION HEALTH? 

There are some scary health consequences associated with lack of physical activity. In a recent New York Times article, Mayo Clinic’s Dr. James Levine argues that excessive sitting, which he defines as nine or more hours a day, is actually a lethal activity.

Even given the large amount of research on the topic, it’s sometimes hard to justify taking care of yourself when work obligations seem never-ending. Too often, we think we can have one or the other, but not both. But walking meetings allow you to get work done while engaging in physical activity. It’s a genius 2-for-1 with benefits on both sides so there’s no reason not to do.

The case for walking meetings is clear. You’re a better version of yourself personally and professionally when you prioritize your health.

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Let us know what benefits you receive from walking in the comments below!