Meeting To Go

Meeting To Go

Walking meetings win out over bizarre treadmill confabs.

We’ve all absorbed the warnings of the medical community about the sedentary workplace. The studies, many from Mayo Clinic, have prompted interesting tweaks to the workday at many local companies.

Minneapolis-based financial staffing firm Salo LLC was one of the first in the nation to incorporate treadmill desks as part of a Mayo study in 2008. Salo even established a conference room with four facing treadmills. Perhaps taking a good idea too far, the practice got the kibosh, as many of the firm’s visiting clients “often weren’t wearing the appropriate shoes,” says marketing communications specialist Molly Pichler.

A newer outgrowth of the trend is the “walking meeting.” Target has hopped onto the trend. Staff at its Minneapolis headquarters and Brooklyn Park campus are offered walking maps as a resource to plan walking meetings, whether on the grounds, around the office or through the skyway. The retailer’s push for more physical activity in the workplace was amplified with last year’s announcement that it was giving away free Fitbit activity and sleep tracking devices to all 335,000 of its workers.

They’re learning what politicians have long understood—walking around is its own form of productivity. St. Paul Ward 5 Councilmember Amy Brendmoen uses walking meetings around Como Lake to connect with her constituents. She was pleasantly surprised by how many people took her up on her “lake lap” idea, she says.

Most of her requests come during campaign years, Brendmoen admits, and with almost five years of the program under her belt she estimates that she’s logged more than 200 miles. “The format is perfect for informal bantering about a topic,” Brendmoen says. After Como Lake’s mile-and-a-half circumference has been lapped, “we are almost always clarifying next steps and action items. And if it’s a great meeting, I ask for a second lap.”