If you happen to be in Downtown Overland Park in the middle of any given weekday, you may spot a herd of software developers (and one marketing professional) strolling down the street together. Before you turn the other direction to steer clear (we understand that an unusual group walking toward you could be alarming), don’t worry—it’s just us getting our daily steps in!
As long as it’s not raining or unbearably cold, our staff makes time every day to get away from our screens and take a quick walk together.
Sometimes, when schedules line up, everyone in the office goes. Other times, it’s just a few of us. And while some trendy office traditions like this tend to eventually die off when people get too busy or don’t want to make time for it anymore, this tradition has stuck around thanks to the daily motivation (and sometimes coercion) from Thomas, one of our consultants and our unofficial walk coordinator.
Besides being a fun office perk, staff walks have numerous benefits that are hard to get other ways. If you’re not already implementing walks with your team, here are three reasons why you should.
It’s good for your health
You’ve probably already heard of the saying “sitting is the new smoking.” According to The Heart Foundation, 25% of American adults sit for more than eight hours a day, and many of those get little to no exercise.
Studies are showing that the more you sit, the more you increase the risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and death from any cause (crazy, right?!).
If you have the luxury of being able to stand at your desk, that’s at least better than sitting—but walking does so much more.
Even just walking 15 minutes a day (which is about the time that we do) contributes to better overall health. It can help you maintain a healthy weight, prevent the diseases we mentioned above, strengthen bones and muscles, increase energy levels, reduce stress, and so much more, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Let’s not forget that fresh air and extra vitamin D you’re getting while you’re outdoors, or the fact that your eyes are getting a break from looking at a screen. The physical benefits just keep adding up!
It creates opportunities to get to know your coworkers better
There’s something about being with your coworkers outside the office that reminds you that they’re real people with real lives just like you. Staff parties and outings are a great way to do this too, but daily walks facilitate these opportunities on a more frequent basis.
On a walk, you can get into some of the most fun conversations that would likely not happen as often in a busy office environment. Walking together can give you a reason to get to know that coworker whom you never cross paths with in the office.
Who knows, you might even come across a runaway dog during a walk that you all frantically try to catch and return to its owner (true story). That’s the kind of memory you’re just not going to get in the four walls of the office. And memories are a fantastic way to make connections.
As a fairly recent hire myself, I can say that staff walks are one of the main ways I’ve been able to connect with my coworkers. It’s given me the opportunity to pick their brains about ideas, learn about their families, find a shared interest, and so much more. That knowledge (both work-related and personal) develops more empathy, and that makes me a better coworker when we’re back in the office too.
It can clear your head
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the middle of a frustrating issue and Thomas yells, “Walk time!” As much as I may have seen it as an inopportune moment to walk, it was actually exactly what I needed.
I don’t know if it’s just the change of scenery, or the fresh air, or just chatting about something else for a few minutes. But many times I come back from a walk with a refreshed mindset. It’s like my mind reboots. Whatever brain fog or mental barrier I had before goes away and the solution often becomes much more clear when I sit back down at my desk.
At this point, I see these mental breaks as necessary to my workday. It’s amazing how a few minutes of not working can actually increase your focus, make you more productive, and reduce stress (also a health benefit!).
So if you haven't experienced the joy of taking walks with your coworkers during the workday yet, go try it out! Get those steps in, make those invaluable memories, breathe in the fresh air, and release that stress—I don’t think you’ll regret it!