Flexible hours and dynamic workspaces are becoming mainstays in the nonprofit world, in part because accommodating busy lives and providing a change of environment can increase employee satisfaction. But taking meetings outside, to the tennis courts, or along the waterfront has been slower to catch on despite evidence that exposure to movement and Mother Nature can boost productivity, improve mood, and build stronger relationships at the office.
Getting the blood flowing can bring more energy and creativity to major projects and brainstorming sessions, too. Here are our tips for bringing more outdoor energy into your work life.
Start small by making moves
For most changemakers, days at the office are spent in front of a computer, in a conference room, or sitting at a desk. While a designated space set for singular focus is great in theory, there’s plenty of research to support that work in motion is essential to happy, healthy employees.
Still, convincing the whole team to take it outside for laps around the parking lot to talk details on a future project may be a tough sell for a mostly sedentary workforce. Starting small with meaningful movement, like a walk outside to get coffee with a co-worker or a trip down the street for lunch with the boss, can be a great way to transition from no motion to slow motion. And every little bit helps.
Let colleagues know you’re committed to incorporating activity and movement into the work day. Instead of sending an email, walk to a supervisor’s desk for a face-to-face conversation. You will get in extra steps, break up time spent sitting, and have a chance to connect with coworkers in a real, relational way.
As the weather starts to change, getting outside can be one of the best ways to boost productivity and increase your mood at work. Soaking up sunshine through the office window is fine, but moving meetings outside gives us a chance to absorb extra vitamin D—and reap its added health benefits. If the team isn’t down for a meeting on the move, take it to a picnic table or park bench. This can be a great way to enjoy some fresh air and a change of scenery without breaking a sweat.
Take it to the streets
Walking meetings are another great way to bolster productivity and strengthen relationships at work. As so many athletes already know, physical movement can help clear the mind and elevate alertness, which can offer a serious reboot to overworked brains that can’t think out of the box. But perhaps one of the biggest benefits of walking meetings is how easily they can shift group dynamics. With supervisors, colleagues and direct reports all walking together, organizational hierarchy can feel momentarily nonexistent (in a good way). This creates an opportunity to build relationships in a new, more open way.
Those in the know suggest keeping the size of walking meetings small and the pace relaxed, setting an agenda before hitting the streets, and assigning roles to various participants. Have someone keep time and choose a person to map the route. The goal is to keep it moving, but stopping periodically to take notes (or take in the scenery) is totally acceptable.
Get in the game
Walking meetings can be some of the easiest to introduce at work. But those who want to get blood pumping in pursuit of creativity have a variety of physical fitness options to consider. Former presidents like George W. Bush and Barack Obama were known for breaking a sweat running miles or rushing the basketball court, while business execs have been doing business on golf greens for decades.
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Jill Nawrocki is a Licensed Social Worker and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer living in Brooklyn. She is an ultra runner, freelance writer and social justice warrior with a background in program management, direct practice, mindfulness and advocacy.