Despite the fact that research shows being outside can dramatically boost our mental and physical health and exercise makes us sharper and more creative, how many of us choose to spend our entire workday indoors? It’s a question I asked myself recently.
Business meetings usually involve moving from my office chair, to the seat of my car, to a restaurant chair. So it was a welcome surprise when Chris Eddy, founder of a company called Blipic, suggested we conduct our business meeting while walking around Lady Bird Lake. He wanted to share with me details about his app that helps people and companies build community around getting outside regardless of the level of physical ability. As we were walking and talking, I recalled a conversation I had with a coworker years ago. There wasn’t a confidential space available in our office so we decided to walk down the street to a local coffee shop. I think the walk there and back was the most productive of our meeting.
Consider The Great Outdoors
Experts say a change in environment can change the outcome if you have to have a difficult conversation with an employee. Getting out of the office can change the dynamics and optics and hopefully lead to a better resolution. Consider if going on a walk, outside, where you both can look at the sky or the trees or the road, and use the physical movement to work through the anxiety, might be helpful.
Need a brainstorming session with your team? The odds of coming up with a creative solution might increase if you are sitting in a garden rather than sitting in a room eating muffins.
Many leaders already know wellness is becoming an integral part of employee benefits plans but please know this; it doesn’t mean its time to run out and sponsor your favorite physical activity. Not sure if having Crossfit Day when only two people in the company (including you) are comfortable with Crossfit is going to fly with your team. Just like with other benefits, the activity has to reflect a specific group of people, in a specific company. Only then can it really build connection. So don’t just make up an activity: ask what people like to do outside. Or better yet, have them plan it themselves.
There is an App for That
Chris’s idea with Blipic is for people to create community around the kinds of things they like to do outside, as well as expanding their view of what that is. Maybe you are not interested in doing a triathlon, but paddling a canoe sounds intriguing. rock climbing could be suggested, but also a nice stroll around Lady Bird Lake. During my walk and talk with Chris, we passed a group of elderly men chatting it up while enjoying the nice morning weather, some using walkers and canes. Yup, its so nice the gravel path is accessible for people of all physical abilities.
Chris shared with me starting next week, Blipic is hosting a huge event called the Austin Sunshine Challenge – open to both individuals and organizations in which local businesses are creating outdoor activities for Austinites. Individuals can join communities by downloading the app, going to different outdoor spaces during the challenge, and participating in various activities, with points and prizes of course! The deadline to join is coming up quickly – October 8th.
In the meantime, if you are interested in discussing how to integrate walking and wellness into your organization, lets talk about it while we walk.