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Walk-and-Talk Meetings: the Next Post-Pandemic InfoGov Challenge?

West Wing Bicycle

A new study commissioned by The Rockport Group has found that 61% of professionals surveyed would rather meet while taking a walk than not (per Boston Business Journal). Rockport, of course, is in the footwear business, so the cynics among us might think this result was somehow preordained. But it does stand to reason that more people will want to walk-and-talk after so many months of pandemic-related indoor isolation. And when they do, what effect will it have on your infogov program?

Besides making Aaron Sorkin proud*, such meetings-on-the-move involve several potential complications:

  • Note-taking becomes more challenging, whether attempted by hand or on a device. Voice recording may be one workable answer, but depending where you are and how crowded the area is, this may lead to security and privacy issues.
  • Document reference or review likely requires the production of hard copies since it’s tough to read a screen that bounces along with each step. Text-to-speech may be a workaround, but it may lead to the same information-protection issues as voice recording.
  • Both of these can be mitigated by sitting on a bench and firing up a 4G- or 5G-equipped laptop to capture ideas and look things up. But if you’re not using a VPN or encryption (or both), your data is protected only by whatever security is(n’t) available on your carrier’s network.
  • Even if you aren’t using a VPN or encryption, including non-office mates via Zoom or Teams may be laggy and/or intermittent, to the point where information-sharing may be difficult or even impossible, thereby imperiling the achievement of the meeting’s goals

More Than Just Meetings; More than Mere Mobility

Adding to the overall fun, the BBJ further reports that “it’s not just meetings. The national survey of 1732 adults showed that professionals are not only motivated to get their steps in, they feel comfortable doing so even at work — with 74% agreeing or strongly agreeing that they have no concerns stepping away during the day.”

The impending appearance of so many free-range workers means it is imperative that your infogov strategies and policies start taking this into account now. My guess is that you’re already on this path thanks to the work you’re already doing under the umbrella of mobility. (You are already doing this, right?!) But walk-and-talk meetings and “while you’re out stepping” conversations bring this to another level since you’re now talking specifically about untethered, in public environments.

So let me end back where we started: What effect will walk-and-talk meetings have on YOUR infogov program?

*Sorkin is generally acknowledged as popularizing the “walk and talk” shooting technique through his use of it on the television programs Sports Night and The West Wing.

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