While any successful organisation should always make room for creativity and innovation, a traditional office environment can sometimes inhibit these. Outdoor meetings are gaining popularity as a way to combat this stagnancy. But how does this trend promote creativity in the workplace, and how effective is it?
Whether you’re planning your first outdoor meeting or looking for ways to make your existing meetings more effective, this article will guide you through.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
The Science Behind Outdoor Meetings
There are a few reasons outdoor meetings are useful, like promoting physical activity that can offset hours spent sitting in an office space. Most importantly, they allow exposure to natural light. Exposure to natural light during the day can help improve sleep quality at night, leading to better cognitive function and overall health.
Advantages of Outdoor Meetings
Thankfully, you don’t need to spend too much time out in the open to see the benefits. Research on outdoor spending shows that just a 50-minute window in nature can improve your attention, concentration and working memory by about 20%.
1. Increased Creativity and Innovation
Exposure to natural environments can help to improve cognitive function and increase divergent thinking – the ability to generate a wide range of ideas. This is particularly important in the workplace, where innovation is key to driving growth and staying competitive. Outdoor meetings can provide a refreshing change of environment, and the freedom to think more openly and creatively can lead to new ideas and solutions.
2. Improved Communication and Collaboration
The natural environment provides a relaxed and informal setting that can help to facilitate more open and honest communication between team members. This can lead to better problem-solving, increased understanding of different perspectives, and a stronger sense of teamwork. Being outdoors can also help reduce distractions from technology and other workplace interruptions, allowing team members to focus on the task and communicate more effectively.
3. Boosted Employee Morale and Productivity
Getting out of the office and into the natural environment can help to boost morale by providing a change of scenery and a break from the daily routine. This can increase motivation and productivity when team members return to the office. Plus, being outdoors, getting fresh air, and exercising all benefit mental and physical health, which are precursors to productivity.
Tips for Successful Outdoor Meetings
Hosting team sessions outside requires careful planning and execution to be effective. Here are some tips to help ensure your next outdoor meeting succeeds.
1. Choose the Right Location
Select a location that is suitable for your meeting’s objectives and attendees. Consider factors such as accessibility, noise levels, and privacy. Look for a place with natural beauty and inspiring surroundings to promote creativity and relaxation.
2. Plan the Meeting Agenda
Develop a clear agenda for the meeting that outlines the topics to be covered and the goals to be achieved. Ensure that the agenda is well-organised and that the meeting flows smoothly.
3. Prepare for the Weather and Other Outdoor Factors
Always check the weather forecast before planning an outdoor meeting. If the forecast predicts inclement weather, have a backup plan or an indoor venue as an alternative. Also, consider other outdoor factors such as bugs, heat, and other environmental hazards, and take necessary precautions.
4. Provide the Right Tools and Technology
Ensure you have the necessary equipment and tools for a successful outdoor meeting. This could include laptops, tablets, projectors and Wi-Fi. Bring along paper and a pen for taking notes or brainstorming sessions.
5. Consider Reasonable Adjustments
Everyone should be physically able to access the meeting site! Consider any team members with disabilities or specific requirements and make necessary adjustments to your plan.
Inclusivity is important here; all attendees should feel comfortable and no one should be excluded. If there is no way to include everyone then an outdoor meeting isn’t right for your team.
Digital Tools for Outdoor Meetings
Digital tools can help in several ways during outdoor meetings. They can facilitate real-time collaboration, document sharing, note-taking and more. They are also useful in ensuring that everyone is on the same page and that no ideas or feedback get lost during the meeting.
1. Video Conferencing
Video conferencing tools like Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet allow participants to join from anywhere worldwide, making connecting with remote team members easy.
2. Collaboration Tools
Collaborating through digital tools such as Mural, Trello, or Asana can help teams to work together more efficiently. These tools can be used for real-time brainstorming, organising ideas, and assigning tasks.
3. Document Sharing
Document-sharing can be carried out using Google Docs or Microsoft OneDrive and can help teams to share information and collaborate on documents. Implementing these in outdoor meetings enables real-time editing, version control, and commenting, which can streamline collaboration.
4. Note-Taking Tools
Note-taking with Evernote, Notion, or similar tools can help participants to capture ideas and action items. Team members can easily organise and share their notes and perspectives, making it easier to follow up on tasks and ideas discussed during the meeting.