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06/06/2019

The Ins And Outs Of The Walk-And-Talk Meeting

Source: Stephen Scott, Fisher Phillips, On The Front Lines No. 6, June 2019

If you could have any super power, what would it be? Many would ask for perfect timing, because timing is everything. An individual with great timing would be hilarious, an amazing investor, great at any timing-based sports, always in place at the right time, and never wasteful of the one thing we cannot get more of—time.

We commonly talk about the metaphor of time as a commodity: “You’re wasting my time,” “How do you spend your time?” “I don’t have enough time to spare,” “You’re running out of time,” “Do you have any time left?” It comes as no surprise that companies are thinking outside the box when it comes to maximizing employees’ time. The most recent trend, originally popularized by Steve Jobs and Jed Bartlet, is the “walk-and-talk” meeting.

A walk-and-talk (or walking meeting) is nothing more than a meeting that takes place during a walk instead of at an office, conference room, restaurant, or coffee shop. These meetings are increasingly popular because: (1) it enables them to get some exercise during a meeting; (2) research from Stanford suggests it increases creative thinking; and (3) there is no time wasted; there is a natural end to a walking meeting with a predetermined route—the same cannot be said about generic meetings.

Potential Pitfalls  

All that said, there are areas of potential concern that employers should consider before considering this new trend. First, what happens if someone is mobility-impaired and would rather not join a walking meeting? One possible solution could be to ensure the meeting is not an impromptu or ill-defined session. Instead, managers can provide proper lead-time and a predetermined route for any walk-and-talk meetings, allowing any employee to raise concerns they may have related to their mobility, the length of the walk, the route taken, or the fact that they are being asked to walk.

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