Walking while you listen to conference calls is a great way to stay fit and productive.
With “work from home”, you get all sorts of great benefits including not having to deal with stressful commutes, sleeping in a bit, not getting dressed up and even sneaking in a midday nap etc.

However, WFH also introduces some new issues that most people aren’t familiar with.

Back in the office, your work day schedule usually has you hopping from one meeting to another periodically throughout the day. This means that you’re moving around, not just sitting at your desk all day long. You’re actually getting some steps in as you walk around the office.

In a WFH arrangement, everything is right at your desk - for better AND worse. There’s no need to get up from your chair and walk from meeting room to meeting room. It’s all virtual. But, this also means that you’re sitting on your ass for most of the whole damn day.

Admit it, you’ve had sore ass syndrome from sitting in your chair for hours on end doing email, joining back-to-back calls and meetings, working on Powerpoint, etc. The soreness can even creep upward toward your lower back.

And, it’s not just your ass and lower back that’s paying the price. Staring at the screen for hours leads to digital eye strain and makes your vision all wonky.

It’s the truth. WFH does have some detractions, namely sitting for too long.

How Sitting All Day Is Ruining Your Health

Recently, in the past decade or so, there’s been mounting evidence from the medical community about how sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for your health.

This study from the University of Queensland Australia is like many countless others. They all point to the fact that sitting for hours on end can wreck your health and wellbeing.

When you sit all day long for weeks or months at a time, it leads to all sorts of physiological issues. It’s things like increased chances of heart attack, excessive weight gain, poor blood circulation, high blood pressure and cholesterol, weakened bones and muscles, etc. And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

This 3-minute whiteboard animation from the guys over at ASAP Science explains things really well.

VIDEO: Are You Sitting Too Much?
YOUTUBE: AsapScience
LENGTH: 3:02
Summary points:
  • Sitting for long periods of time leads to all sorts of health issues
  • Inactivity weakens your body overall and creates a negative cycle
  • Bodies are meant to move around, not sit all day
So, the message is clear. Sitting on your ass, typing on the keyboard and staring at the screen all day isn’t the most ideal way to work from home.

But, there are ways you can get your body moving throughout the day to mix things up.

Some ideas include a desk yoga, using a standing desk, doing mini exercises between tasks, etc.

The one idea that we think deserves more consideration is to go for a walk while listening in on conference calls. It’s a good kind of multi-tasking that blends the physical with the mental.

The Best Types Of Conference Calls For Walking

Walking is a simple, easy and low impact form of exercise that you can do when you’re WFH. In fact, it’s one of the best low-impact, low-sweat workouts you can do anytime. And, one way to incorporate walking into your workday is to make it part of your conference calls, particularly the boring conference calls.

Doing walking conference calls allows you to stay on top of your work while also getting some much needed physical activity. But, not all conference calls are suited for walking sessions.

The best kinds of conference calls to take while walking are the ones that have these two basic traits:

1) Audio only calls (no presentations)

2) You’re a participant, not the leader

With audio-only calls, you can join via phone and you don’t need to be in front of your computer as there isn’t a presentation to view. Plus, you don’t need to look down at your phone either and be a smartphone zombie.

And, since you’re not leading the call or meeting, you don’t need to organize, plan, prepare and host the session. You’re just a participant and/or supporting team member.

These two things are what will allow you to walk and listen.

Here are a few examples that fit the above criteria:

Company Town Hall Meetings

Every company has monthly or quarterly news and information to share with everyone. It’s commonly referred to as “town hall” meetings.

Traditionally, town hall meetings are held in-person but they almost always have a conference bridge set-up for those that aren’t at the office and need to dial-in remotely.

Weekly Team Meetings

Depending on how your boss runs team meetings, sometimes these meetings can be taken via phone as well. If your manager likes to keep things simple and doesn’t use presentations during team meetings, this can also be an ideal one to join while walking.

It’s a good idea to talk with your manager about this beforehand. In most cases, unless they’re an asshole boss, they probably won’t have any issues with you taking the call while walking. In fact, you might inspire them to do the same.

One-on-One Calls With Your Manager 

In most one-on-one weekly status meetings with your boss, a simple phone call is all that’s needed. Check-in with your manager about taking the call while walking. It shouldn’t be a problem for the informal weekly updates.

For those instances where you need to present or share files, take those calls at your desk since you’ll need to use the computer. Otherwise, grab your sneaks and head outside for the conversation.

Calls With Your Co-workers

You can be a walking-n-talking evangelist within your company by having your informal conversations and chats with coworkers while getting some steps in for the day.

You can definitely do a walking call with your work BFF.

As a courtesy, just let them know that you’ll be walking and talking at the same time. Chances are good that you’ll probably sway them to give it a shot too.

Group Project Updates

You’re probably a part of several cross-functional group projects where you’re not leading the effort, but a supporting contributor. These types of projects always require weekly, bi-weekly and at minimum monthly update meetings.

For those meetings that will not have any presentation material shown and will exclusively be an audio-only call, join them as you take a walk outside and get some fresh air and steps in.

Industry Conference Events

Every industry has periodic broadcast calls or meetings to provide updates on the state of the industry, share important information and discuss upcoming events and plans.

Since this is an external meeting and in nearly all cases, all participants are in listen-only mode, you can easily join this while taking a stroll and enjoying the outdoors.

Replay Webinars

For those information dense webinars, it’s always a good idea to re-listen to the session again to catch the important bits of information that are key to your projects.

Oftentimes, the first go-round is like trying to drink from a fire hose. It’s hard to absorb everything on the first pass. So, get the replay link and listen to it again while you take a walk.

In fact, the physical activity of walking will also keep you stimulated so that you’re paying attention versus falling asleep at your desk.

Some Helpful Tips & Recommendations

If you want to make walking conference calls productive and effective, you need to do a little bit of planning and preparation. It’s nothing intensive - just a few simple tasks so that your call goes smoothly.

1) Master The Mute Button 

Since you’re going to be outdoors taking the call, it’s critically important that you know how to mute and unmute yourself.

There’s gonna be all sorts of background noise and sounds while you’re walking. You need to be able to block that all out when you’re not talking so that you’re not annoying the fuck out of everyone on the call.

All phones have a mute function built-in. Get familiar with how to use it and test it beforehand.

2) Check Your Battery Levels

There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a call, only to have your phone die on you. It’s like driving on an empty tank and running out of gas.

Don’t put yourself in this position.

Make sure that the battery levels on your phone and Bluetooth headsets are at least 50% minimum before heading out. This way, you eliminate the risk of running out of juice on the call.

If the battery levels are low, ditch the walk and join the call from your desk while you’re charging the phone and/or Bluetooth headset for the next chance to walk. 

3) Use Earphones With Mic, Not The Speaker

When you’re outside walking, it can be hard to hear what others are saying on a call when you’re just using the phone or the speaker. So, be sure to bring along your earphones with the integrated microphone.

This can either be wired or wireless. Wired ones are simple and you don’t have to worry about battery levels and generally, the mics perform better. However, they’re not as convenient or comfortable as using Bluetooth wireless ones.

Test both options and see what others say about the sound quality and stick to the better option moving forward.

4) Dial-In & Get Connected Before Heading Out

Before you set foot outside for your walk-n-talk call, get dialed-in and connected to the call. If not, you’ll have to hunt for the dial-in codes on your tiny phone screen, which is a royal pain in the ass.

Also, sometimes, the conference call dial-in information changes at the last minute due to technical or account login issues. Get this sorted out at your desk before walking out.

5) Walk Around Your Neighborhood

This is a simple walk, not jogging or running. You don’t want to be breathing heavily or gasping for air when it’s time for you to chime in for any questions or comments.

Because if you do, a lot of people will be wondering what the hell you’re doing and you’ll fall into the gossip trap.

So, just go for an easy walk around your neighborhood. Keep it simple.

6) Walk On Quieter Streets Not Main Avenues

You know your neighborhood like the back of your hand. So, you should be familiar with what areas tend to have high traffic and noise. You’ll want to avoid those and stick with quieter side streets away from the busy spots.

If you’re within a short walking distance to a park, that's an ideal spot to walk around, as it’s typically away from traffic and big crowds.

7) Bring Small Notepad And Pen

Remember those tiny mini notepads from elementary school? Ya’ know, the ones you used to write down homework assignments? They’re great for walking conference calls.

Bring along that mini notepad and a pen to jot down any key points and action items that you need to follow up on after the call. And, if you’re good at speedwriting, you can capture all the key points.

Doing this is far better than trying to remember everything after your walk. 

8) Download & Use Note-taking App

If you’re a digital devotee or would rather not use pen-n-paper, you could also take notes using any of the multitude of note-taking apps out there. A few of the biggies are Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, Google Keep and Apple Notes.

If you want to keep it uber-simple, just start a new text message and save it in your drafts for reference when you get back home.

9) Use The Voice-Recorder On Your Phone

Sometimes, when you’ve got a lot of things brewing in your head or a longer list of action items, it’s much easier to just record a short voice memo than peck at your tiny virtual keyboard.

All phones have a voice recorder function. Give it a try and test it out. It’s very easy to use. And, you can save a bunch of voice-memos for things you don’t want to forget.

10) Ask For Meeting Minutes

If the conference call leader has got their shit together, they’ll usually have meeting minutes sent out to all of the participants after the call. Or, at the very least, an email outlining the key points and action items.

To be sure, ask the leader to send out notes or task reminders to everyone on the call.

11) Look Up & Be Aware

You’ve probably seen tons of people texting and walking at the same time and many of them end up walking into something or someone or worse, falling into something.

Now, since your call is audio-only, you shouldn’t be staring down at your phone anyway. And, don’t be tempted to add the distractions of messaging or browsing the web while listening to a call and walking at the same time. It’s too damn much.

Keep it simple with just listening and walking with visual awareness of your surroundings. If you can, just use one earpiece so that you can also hear your surroundings as well.

12) Enjoy & Appreciate Walking Outside

When there’s a lot going on at work, it’s easy to forget about the simple things in life like the birds chirping, fresh air, puffy clouds and sunshine. By mixing in some outdoor walking, you’ll quickly remind yourself about how good things actually are.

In fact, walking in nature has some incredible brain benefits.

While you’re walking and listening to the call, look around and see all the little wonderful things that are happening. It’s a beautiful world out there.

Breathe in all that fresh air.

See all the greenery.

Smile and be happy that you’re able to do this.

Get Fit, Productive & Happy With Walking Conference Calls

Sitting all day on your ass isn’t doing any favors for your health. It’s just making it worse. But, since you’re WFH, you have the ability to change up your work habits by mixing in some walking with your conference calls.

It’s one of the few multi-tasking activities that is actually good for you. It’s moving your body while communicating. Or more specifically, it’s walking and listening or talking at the same time.

It’s such an easy and awesome way to stay healthy, manage work stress, boost happiness and keep up with work. Plus, it changes up the scenery. It’s good to get out of the four walls of your home office every once in a while.

When you spend some time outside, it often helps to clear your head and allows you to get in the zone when you return home.

So, take a look at your calendar and see when you can do your first walking call. Then, give it a shot.

You just might find that it’s the perfect way to get your body moving and add variety to your WFH day.

Feel Better,
[Cubicle Therapy]

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