Tired of typical business meeting? Companies are taking them on the road

Posted at 5:41 PM, Mar 29, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-29 17:41:45-04

Done with sitting through yet another boring business meeting? Well, now you can take that meeting on the road, literally.

These days when Michelle McDermott and her co-workers get called into a meeting, they lace up their running shoes and head outside. 

"To be outside in the fresh air and sunshine and also getting work done at the same time? You really can't even quantify the benefit. It feels so good," McDermott said.

Michelle's company encourages employees to take walking meetings, where you flush out ideas on the go. They've even outfitted the conference room with treadmills for when the weather is bad.

Jackie Gould says the walking meetings help add balance. 

"We all lead very busy lives, and trying to work in physical activity to a busy work life balance can be difficult," Gould said.

Walking meetings have a long history. Favored by visionaries from Sigmund Freud to Steve Jobs, now, they're a rising trend in the American workplace as well.

Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez led a pilot study that found that changing just one seated meeting per week into a walking meeting increased the work-related physical activity levels of white-collar workers by 10 minutes.

He suggests bumping up to 30 minutes per day and you'll walk and talk yourself into the daily recommended level of activity set by the American Heart Association.

"Companies are trying to improve the levels of activity that the worker does throughout the day to address the overweight and obesity issues that we are seeing," Caban-Martinez said.

In fact, walking meetings are seen as so beneficial they're now recommended as part of the federal dietary guidelines. And there may be other benefits as well, with one Stanford study finding a marked increase in creative thinking when workers were walking versus sitting.

Jackie says she's seen the difference in the walking meetings she conducts. 

"It also creates a different dynamic in the course of a meeting," she said. "It's more casual, it's a little more open and we found that the benefit of the different meeting style has been just as important as the health benefit."

As for Michelle, she loves the new mandate to get moving and plans to make it her regular routine.

"We're more engaged. It just spurs things that might not have come up otherwise," she said.

While much more research is needed to confirm the actual long term health benefits and creativity boosts, experts say there's no reason to wait to start implementing a walking meeting program at your workplace today.