Walking Meetings: Discover your new meeting environment

The Covid-19 pandemic has made us all rethink where we do our work.

Our “office” is now anywhere and everywhere. It’s undeniable – there are many benefits to working remotely when it comes to cost and productivity. While working remotely can be beneficial in many ways, there are also some notable downsides, such as the ability to communicate effectively and maintain professional relationships.  

Creating scheduled communication is very important. Being physically isolated, and having the perception of being isolated, can lead to mental health issues, impacting emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing. The practice of daily/weekly pulse meetings at work can be a check-in point. According to a study compiled in August 2020, professionals working during an epidemic/pandemic are at a greater risk of developing mental health issues. It is stated that some mental health issues brought on by the pandemic could last up to three years (Stuijfzand et al., 2020). It is important to remember while mental health requires long-term engagement for repair and wholeness, companies and organizations need to recognize the need to integrate mental health support into all aspects of their work to assure staff members are still connected to the organization and an important member of the team. 

But what happens when you or your team feels isolated or disconnected, and virtual engagement activities just aren’t cutting it?  

“Reports indicate that 80% of the world’s population felt their mental health had been affected in 2020 because of the pandemic,” said Dr. MacAllister. “It is clear that it is a significant issue, and that positive relationships are crucial, but how can we safely engage?” 

When your team is feeling the negative effects of working remotely, says Dr. MacAllister, it’s time to put on your walking shoes. Dr. MacAllister recently sat down with Dr. Wayne Jonas and Psychology Today to discuss the benefits of walking meetings and why they are needed in today’s world to remain safe and engaged at work. Walking meetings are not only a safer way to connect with your coworkers; switching from virtual to walking meetings makes a noticeable difference in your creativity, productivity, and wellbeing. 

When considering how to adapt to this Covid-reset and safely engage at work, using walking meetings as a part of your toolkit will generate meaningful and measurable results.  


Use the outdoors as an innovation space by using a four-point process.

Want to make your next meeting a walking one? Follow these four steps for an easy plan to make meetings safer: 


Define the discussion.

While the conversation is free-flowing, the topics of discussion of the result of the meeting should be clear, so be sure to have an agenda prior to your walk. 

Plan the route.

Define a clear route that is safe and known. It will be important to assure that you are not spending your time navigating or troubleshooting during your meeting. If you are worried about getting lost, it will be tough to stay on topic.  


Greet and farewell.

New safety measures allow for an eye-to-eye exchange and a casual greeting “SMIZE” smile with your eyes. Bring an extra mask with you and address the safe use of masks at the onset of the meeting.  Conclude the meeting with a farewell gesture lifted from other cultures the subtle bow as a formal goodbye or more casual wave.   


Fast follow-up.

When your walking meeting is complete, find a spot to write out the items discussed and capture the outcomes of the meeting. Be sure to record any follow-up items before you jump into another meeting or task.  Send this out immediately to your meeting attendee for a clear and complete follow-up. 


Following these four steps will result in a guaranteed engaged meeting where the participants are able to think creatively, and proactively improve professional relationships with their team. As we have learned living in a Covid-19 world: we can work anywhere, and we will be embracing that frame of mind as we move forward. The pandemic has provided the reset, and the research is clear: walking meetings are the future and should be a staple in your toolkit for safely returning to work.  


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Stuijfzand, S., Deforges, C., Sandoz, V. et al. Psychological impact of an epidemic/pandemic on the mental health of healthcare professionals: a rapid review. BMC Public Health 20, 1230 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-09322-z