two office workers (man and woman) having a meeting whilst walking in the great outdoors

National Walking Month – Could Open Air Meetings Transform Modern Practice?

The theme of Mental Health Awareness Month in 2021 is Nature.

And here at Public Practice Recruitment Ltd we’ve been thinking a lot lately about how transformational the last twelve to eighteen months have been and how accountancy firms around the UK have learned to think outside the box when it comes to new ways of working.

So how can we boost the mental health of our employees and drive up the productivity and profitability of our practices? The clue is in the theme – get outside!

Now let’s start by facing up to the fact that the great British weather can be a little unpredictable. But lots of us have managed to make meals outside in the driving rain a positive experience to see our much missed friends and family over the last few weeks, so why not apply that learned skill to meeting up with colleagues, managers and subordinates?

There’s lots of benefits to holding our accountancy meetings in the great outdoors.

1. Nature makes us feel more relaxed. The Mental Health Foundation recently published an executive summary on the benefits nature brings to us emotionally, physically and psychologically, and there are many. The report acknowledges that some of us are better able to access nature, but that fresh air, even in an urban setting is absolutely linked to a more positive and happier outlook.

2. Group meetings (probably up to a limit of five people) can be more creative and productive when they take place outdoors. They are also a brilliant way to make your team more energised. Can you remember boring afternoons in the classroom when you were at school? Then one day your teacher would suggest that you took your lesson under a tree on the playing field? That feeling of euphoria that you were doing something different and getting outside is no less as an adult!

3. Conflict is easier to manage outside. We’ve talked before on the blog about how low level conflict is often a necessary part of the process of improving systems and services. Having a healthy debate about a topic can be a good thing. Tempers are much less likely to rise in an outdoor setting and in fact participants in a walk and talk are more likely to listen in full to their colleagues view points without interrupting.

4. Healthy employees are a great thing to have! And the side effects of sitting at a desk for more than six hours a day are widely known and include increased cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Having a workplace culture that encourages time outside is a brilliant addition to your employee value proposition! Believe us when we say we’ve met plenty of talented accountancy candidates who would love to work for a company that values their health!

But what about interviews. Can they take place outdoors?

In 2021 anything is possible and many hiring managers really want to take the time to get to know the person behind the CV. They want to know that the person they might be bringing in to their tight and high performing team is the right one and that they won’t upset the personality mix. Following up a phone or video interview with a walk outside is not only a great way to keep COVID at bay, but it’s also a brilliant way to get to know a candidate on a deeper level. It’s a fantastic use of time for both parties.

So as you champion mental health at work this month, be sure to seize this really easy opportunity to make a positive change for your employees. You’ll probably find outdoor meetings really boost your own mental health too!

If we can help you line up outdoor interviews with talented accountants in all areas of our industry, get in touch today. We’d be delighted to take your call. 

And if you enjoyed this article you’ll like enjoy these too!

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