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How to Have a “Walking Meeting”

They're the new power lunch in coronavirus-era DC

Photograph by Bryce Williams
Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

Washingtonian is keeping you up to date on the coronavirus around DC.

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.

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CEO & President

Catherine Merrill is CEO and President of Washingtonian Media, a media company that includes the flagship 54-year-old magazine, Washingtonian, the national capital region’s leading monthly with more than 400,000 readers and winner of five National Magazine Awards; Washingtonian.com—the region’s premier lifestyle website with millions of pageviews per month and over 500,000 social media followers; Washingtonian Weddings; Washingtonian Welcome Guide; as well as Washingtonian Custom Media and Washingtonian Events.

From 2002 to 2007, Ms. Merrill served as Director of Operations for Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), where she helped manage and collect 60 percent of the nation’s tolls—$2.7 billion a year—including the majority of the E-ZPass network. Prior to joining ACS, from 1995 to 2002, she was a partner in the worldwide management consulting firm Oliver Wyman.

Ms. Merrill is very active in the community and serves on the board of trustees of multiple organizations including the University of Maryland College Park (where she also chairs the Board of Visitors for the School of Journalism), Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences, the City and Regional Magazine Association, Ford’s Theater, the Greater Washington Board of Trade, and The Merrill Family Foundation. She is a member and former chapter chair of YPO (Young President’s Organization) as well as an active member in the Economics Club of Washington and the Federal City Council. She has appeared on CNN, the Today Show, CNN Headline News, FOX, MSNBC, as well as other local Washington stations.

She holds a B.A. from Cornell University and a M.Sc. from the London School of Economics.

Ms. Merrill resides in Washington, DC, with her two sons. She enjoys sailing, skiing, and travel.