An Update on Walking Meetings

The scene of our walking meetings

The scene of our walking meetings

I gave notice that I was starting walking meetings for 2014 and now that I am three weeks in, it’s time for an update.  The first thing that happened was I got a lot of support and encouragement right away, on twitter (check out #walkingmeetings), LinkedIn, via comments on the blog and email.  However the most important reaction was from my team, they were very enthusiastic to try it and seem to embrace it wholeheartedly.  I have 9 local direct reports and I shifted our weekly 30 minute one to one meetings to walking meetings, we have a beautiful location and climate here in Silicon Valley so getting out there is easy, although I did cancel one meeting when it was windy.

My prime motivation was to get more exercise and my fitbit statistics show I am walking between 4 and 6 miles a day now, up from 2 or 3 miles a day previously.

The meetings seem to be more productive, away from the distractions of interruptions from other people, emails and IM coming in we can actually talk through the issues we need to discuss, think about them clearly and agree on actions.  In general each of us jots down the things we want to discuss on a scrap of paper before we set off.   I can easily jot a reminder on my smart phone if I have an action I think I might forget.  If we need to do something on a computer we just end at my office and spend a few minutes in front of it together, but you would be surprised how little we need this.  We are a technology company, the stereotype is of geeks hunched over a computer in a darkened office surrounded by pizza boxes and empty Coke cans, but in reality most of a software engineer’s job is not about physically writing code, it is about solving problems, thinking, discussing, bouncing ideas off each other etc.  Getting outdoors now and again is certainly conducive to this creative process.

So these are my early thoughts, more to come as we keep this going and if we ever get any rain this year I will see how I cope with that.

6 Responses

  1. How inspirational – I will have to try this as well for some of my meetings!

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  2. […] fitness trackers and I have had great benefit from my fitbit, not least of all the inspiration for walking meetings.  A fitness tracker is not a new idea (I joke that a fitbit is just a $100 pedometer), but the […]

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  3. Hi David, thanks very much for all the info. We are trying to promote walking meetings at my company — as a kind of “grassroots innovation idea” — and had a few questions for you:
    1. Have you noticed any positive trends that you can attribute to occurring as a result of “walking meetings”. For instance, have you seen a reduction in “sick days” as a result of implementing “walking meetings”? Do people generally seem “happier” or “more engaged”? Is there less “employee turnover”? Productivity??

    2. Did you have to get management or executive support, and if so, how difficult was that?
    What benefits do you feel management felt could be realized as a result of sanctioning walking meetings for their employees?

    3. Was it difficult to get people to buy in? Was there a need to provide any incentive to get people to participate? [from your blog it sounds like everyone was enthusiastic to start with, but just thought you might comment on this]

    4. Has anybody ever mentioned a liability concern? (i.e. if there is an injury during a walking meeting — perhaps due to traffic, obstruction or otherwise) If so how did you address it?

    5. Any other comments or help you can provide for someone trying to promote walking meetings in a large IT department…
    Thanks!!

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    • Thanks for this detailed and thought out comment. I’ll try to answer the questions one by one.
      1) We do not have any hard data about positive trends across the organization. I have my own data on the increase in walking and loss of some weight tracked through fitbit. Anecdotal feedback is very positive too, meetings feel more productive.
      2) I just did it. I don’t think we need any management sign off, I do always give people I invited to the walking meetings the option of walking or office based. It is important to respect individuals preferences I believe. However, everyone wants to walk most of the time, sometimes in bad weather or if we want to look at something on a monitor we might stay in an office.
      3) No. People were very receptive and interested to try it. When people try it, most of them really like it.
      4)No. We tend to walk around our campus, no traffic to worry about.
      5) My advice is to start it and tell others. Word of mouth will help it spread.
      2)

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  4. […] of this year I have been doing regular walking meetings and have enjoyed the benefits to both my health and my productivity.  I also found many other people already doing walking meetings and others who have been inspired […]

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