"Meetings on the Move" Can Increase Workplace Productivity

In celebration of Public Health Week April 5-11, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis challenge employers to try a “Meeting on the Move” to improve health and productivity in the workplace.

"Forty percent of the population are absolute couch potatoes," explained Debra Haire-Joshu, Ph.D, professor of social work at Washington University and director of the Obesity Prevention and Policy Research Center at the Brown School. "That's almost a learned behavior. You learn to sit at school; you learn to sit at work. What 'Meetings on the Move' really does is get us active like we used to be when we were kids. We can learn then to bring activity back into our daily life, just like we learned to take it out."

According to Tim McBride, Ph.D., associate dean for public health at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University, these meetings present an “inexpensive, easy way” to get employees on their feet and out of the office environment.

The benefits from conducting meetings on the move may include:

  • Added physical activity. Even if a meeting on the move is an employee’s only physical activity for the day, it is better than nothing.
  • Improved productivity. A MOTM can reenergize employees by getting the blood pumping.
  • Different perspective. Ideas or problems can look very different once you step out of the office.
  • Improved team spirit. Walking together may help employees bond or come together to work on projects.
  • Exercise beyond the workplace. These active meetings may encourage workers to exercise outside of work, as well.
  • Inexpensive. There is no need to pay for coffee or doughnuts at this type of meeting.
  • Green. Going for a walk leaves little to no carbon footprint.
  • Improved company wellness plan. These meetings are a simple addition to a corporate wellness plan or office health challenge.
  • Less stress. Walking can have a positive effect on stress levels.
  • Physical benefits. Exercise may help chronic conditions such as diabetes or migraines.

Tips for a Meeting on the Move

McBride and Haire-Joshu offer several tips for employers considering holding their meetings on the move:

  • Set an agenda. These meetings are great for brainstorming, planning or informational sessions.
  • Confirm a meeting leader with the participants.
  • Plan a simple route. Look at local parks, tracks and empty office areas.
  • Assign the role of note-taker to one of the participants. Consider using a tape recorder.
  • Use a microphone if the group is large.
  • Encourage wearing comfortable walking shoes.
  • Be open to suggestions on how to improve these meetings.
  • Vary the locations of your meetings to increase creativity.

McBride and Haire-Joshu also stress that with more than 30 percent of Americans suffering from obesity, conducting meetings on the move may be a step in the direction of combating this serious health problem.

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