Are walking meetings just another fad, or are they the future of meetings? In this article, we take a look and ask if they can make you a better QA tester.
Are walking meetings just another fad, or are they the future of meetings? The benefits to well-being and mental clarity that walking can bring have long been known. Aristotle instructed his students while strolling his Peripatetic (or Walking) School, while Sigmund Freud conducted a series of evening walking meetings, and Steve Jobs found it beneficial to have his “serious conversations” while walking.
So what are the benefits of walking meetings that can be so appealing and beneficial to our states of mind? Let’s explore the different ways that walking can make us better at our jobs.
Walking as Equals
A strange and happy side effect of scheduling a meeting away from the office and the usual desk or computer screen between you is that walking meetings at work have an interesting equalizing effect on the participants.
Technology executive Nilofer Merchant is a big advocate of the walking meeting and states that “When executives and employees walk side-by-side, the hierarchical boundaries are virtually eliminated.” This is an excellent thing for team building. It can create an open atmosphere in the workplace, encourage the free exchange of ideas, and can nurture debate and constructive criticism. These are all excellent qualities for a software development and QA testing environment.
Walking with Nature
We spend our workdays in cubicles, pods, and workstations and surround ourselves with screens and technology that permeates all aspects of our lives. The need to switch off from it all and reconnect with the living environment is growing more attractive and beneficial to our physical and mental well-being as time goes on.
Studies show that even ten to fifteen minutes of being in nature can benefit our mental health. Looking at trees, nature, and wildlife and being outdoors can lower our blood pressure and reduce stress.
Walking Away From the Desk
How many times have you found yourself falling asleep at the desk, or struggling to concentrate after staring at the same screen for hours on end? You won’t be able to do a good job in that state of mind! By physically getting up and leaving your desk to go for a walking meeting with a colleague, you can break the routine and introduce a valuable change of scenery.
By regularly holding and attending walking meetings, you can liberate yourself from the fixed mindset that the office is the only place where you can be productive. Stretching your legs can also stretch your mind as walking meetings help to spark the neutrons in your brain because an active body contributes to having an active mind.
Walking for our Health
We all know we need to move more in this day and age. A recent study suggests that the average person sits for approximately 9 hours a day – that’s two more hours than we sleep each night! Walking meetings could contribute to staying healthy as a QA tester tester, especially if part of the between 6,000 to 10,000 steps that we are encouraged to aim for daily. So walking meetings could be a great way to combine essential work tasks with getting your step count up.
As mentioned earlier, being surrounded by nature is great for our well-being, and even if your walking meetings are not held at any green space, a brisk walk for 15 minutes can be a real boon to your mental and physical health.
Walking for Creativity
Neuroscientist, and author of the book In Praise of Walking, Shane O’Mara, says that walking has a profound and positive influence on creativity and that scientific literature suggests that getting people to engage in physical activity before they engage in a creative act is very powerful. So powerful, in fact, that idea generation can be doubled by doing a creative talk while walking. As quoted in a UK broadsheet, The Guardian, O’Mara says of his theory, “The activation that occurs across the whole of the brain during problem-solving becomes much greater almost as an accident of walking demanding lots of neural resources.”
Mark Kelly, a UK-based business consultant who helps agencies improve their processes, regularly hosts dedicated “Walk and Workshop” days and says that his approach always gets results. Mark says, “getting the agency owner and nominated team out on the hills sees everyone talking and thinking right from the start. Attendees attest that they get a fresh perspective on the business and often unexpected ‘aha!’ insights. Sat around a desk all day just doesn’t have the same energizing effect.”
Walking with Focus
The mere act of changing your environment and doing something different can change the way you think at that moment. A colleague once told me that doing something as trivial as switching your watch over to the wrist you don’t usually wear it on can spark something in your brain to make you think differently and help you approach a given task in a fresh mindset. While I’m not sure about the science behind that claim, there is truth in that when you are struggling to solve a problem, one of the best things to do is have a change of scenery – to get up and go for a walk. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been stuck with a problem at work, and the solution has hit me 15 minutes later when I’m walking home and as far from my desk as possible!
By literally getting out of the box, you can encourage the out-of-the-box thinking that can make you a better QA tester.