How do you integrate walking into meetings, conferences and the work day? According to Kaiser Permanente’s Total Health commitment to workforce wellness there are three strategic elements:
• The objective to be the healthiest workforce in healthcare (lower costs, boost productivity, reduce absenteeism, presenteeism etc.);
• The commitment to respect fellow employees by supporting healthy, balanced lifestyles that integrate physical activity (and other elements of well-being such as healthy food and reducing stress) into the work day; and
• The business imperative to be a best of class 'proof point' to customers, prospects, and nation.
Taking a walk (a walk and talk) can lead to fresh perspectives; generate new ideas; refresh the mind, body and soul; and build rapport with team members – as well as with people you may not know well, or who have different perspectives.
We should look for every opportunity to walk the walk – to be a visible role model for the change we seek, and bring value to the work at hand by building physical activity into our meetings in a way that benefits our work, our people and our organization’s strategic goals.
There are multiple settings and formats where a walk and talk can be productive:
• 1:1 meetings between peers; or between a manager and a team member
• Groups of 2-4 persons (in lieu of a face to face meeting in an office)
• Work teams (where a walk might replace, or be part of, a face to face meeting)
• Walks as active breaks that become a core part of conferences (e.g. to do reflection, surface ideas, and address topics in a creative way as we might in a small group activity.
• Neighborhood tours, constituency development, walking audits etc.
Consider the objectives of the walk – perhaps a combination of fresh air, relationship-building and topical to the task at hand. This typically includes framing the topics / question(s) to be addressed on the walk.
Provide adequate advance notice that a walk will take place -- inviting people to plan and dress accordingly (e.g. bring comfortable walking shoes, jacket, sunscreen/hat etc.)
Clarify the time(s) available, factoring adequate time for:
o Framing the purpose/outcomes of the conversation/tasks to take place during the walk o Presenting the timing, logistics, and outline an attractive route (in nature, not too noisy etc. Provide a map…) o Light stretching, or instant recess to ‘warm up’ before the walk o A restroom break, or time to address personal needs - so that time items people need to address during a traditional break time are not neglected. Not doing so can undercut a walk. o Allow time for harvesting learning from the walk, if applicable.
Frame the purpose/outcomes of the topics/conversation/tasks to take place during the walk: o Ensure the task is doable and understood before the walk starts o Create right-sized (2-4 persons) and effectively configured groups – that will support the task o Encourage people to bring a small note pad and pen, if useful o Review materials in advance that would set the stage. Phones off!
• A guide from Ted Eytan MD, with links to the science and tactical ideas: http://bit.ly/walkingmeetings • http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/walking-meeting.pdf • http://feetfirst.org/walks/walking-meetings