Many Washingtonians are working from home during the coronavirus crisis. But for people who are beginning to really miss the company of others outside their family—maybe especially outside their family—a walking meeting may be a welcome expedition. “I’m in the business of booking outdoor walking meetings. Shall we calendar?” read an email from political insider and lobbyist Juleanna Glover that popped into the inboxes of some of DC’s movers and shakers recently. (Glover is usually known for bringing people together and hosting events at her home in Kalorama.) Still, while communications technology has come such a long way, it appears nothing can replace human contact—without, well, the contact.
The protocol of this new type of “walking meeting”:
1) Meet outside one’s home or at a predetermined meeting spot
No ringing the doorbell, no knocking. Just wait politely, as you would sitting at a table in a restaurant.
2) No physical greeting
The means avoid even the elbow touch. Certainly no handshake.
3) Pick a route
Determine how much time you have and then pick a route. Through the neighborhood? Into and through a park? Whatever fits. Stay away from crowded streets and urban areas. One CEO who lives in Georgetown did his meeting walking through the Georgetown University campus. “I’ve lived here for years and yet I almost never come on the campus,” he says. “I saw parts I didn’t know existed.”
4) Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes
There is a time for heels and blazers. This is not it. This is a real walk and a bit of exercise, so dress for it. Glover says she is averaging 14,000 steps a day, so shoes matter.
5) Walk apart!
Stay several feet away from one another, even if that requires one person to walk in the grass next to the sidewalk. Sidewalks are narrow so be prepared to walk in some mud and walk on the curb.
6) Limit the number of walks
This is not a substitute for work. Limiting interaction is still key to fighting the coronavirus. No more than 1 to 2 walking meetings a day. And no walks with people over the age of 60.
“I plan to keep these up even when we return to normal. I don’t mind if others think it odd,” says Glover.