One of the great benefits of walking more at work, an improved ability to focus and concentrate is a good excuse to grab your coat and escape the desk. Some famous names have valued walking at work too – Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, takes potential new employees for a walk in the woods; Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, enjoyed walking meetings, and famous author Charles Dickens often walked up to 20 miles a day.
So, how do you make a habit of going for a walk? One way is by taking part in the Daily Mile. In 2012, Elaine Wyllie, a teacher at a school in Stirling, became worried about the lack of fitness displayed by pupils, and encouraged them to walk or jog for 15 minutes a day. Teachers and parents soon noticed improvements in pupil’s attention and behaviour in class. The Daily Mile now takes place in over 1,000 schools in Scotland, and the initiative is now being introduced in workplaces too. Scottish Power have recently launched a “Walk the Daily Mile” initiative for staff, and Nursing students at the Inverness Highland Campus of Stirling University are encouraged to walk through the Undergraduate Mile a Day (TUMAD) initiative.
Another way to encourage walking in your workplace is to arrange a walking meeting. With a small amount of planning and organisation, many meetings can take place on foot. Below are some tips on how to get the best from a walking meeting.
1. Plan your route. Knowing where you’re going, how long it’ll take and whether there might be any obstructions will motivate you and encourage others taking part in the meeting. If you’re walking an unfamiliar route, go for a short recce beforehand to check the route is suitable.
2. Don’t invite a big crowd. Walking meetings are most productive with small groups of up to three or four people. The bigger the crowd, the more difficult it is to communicate effectively. Plus, trying to hold a ten person walking meeting whilst walking down a busy street? Not so productive…
3. Use walking meetings to come up with new ideas. Walking meetings are great for creative thinking, but not so great for convergent thinking. In other words, if you want to brainstorm new ideas, a walking meeting is a great format.
4. Let the person or people you’re meeting know about the walking meeting. No-one likes a surprise walk through a muddy park whilst wearing their smartest shoes.
5. Consider the note-taker. Walking meetings aren’t really suitable for taking lots of pen and paper notes. Take a small notebook and a pen to jot down important points instead, or use a voice-recording app on a smart phone.
Feeling inspired? Watch the video below for a TED talk from Nilofer Merchant about how great walking meetings are for fresh thinking and new ideas.