By David Saul, Managing Director, Business Environment
If you’ve never been in the gym lifting weights or using the running machine while discussing how to reduce overheads and boost productivity, then you’re probably like most UK business people.
I say UK business people because the trend I’m referring to, sweatworking, originated in the US.
In perhaps a nod to the austere times, professionals are said to be forgoing the boozy lunch and holding meetings in the gym.
Sweatworking is not exclusively a US phenomenon, however. According to a recent article in the Independent on Sunday, it is beginning to take off here in the UK too.
The article reports that Fitness First is planning to launch a structured breakfast networking meeting at one of its central London gyms and LA Fitness is including free guest passes in its corporate packages.
We should of course be wary of drawing inferences about our entire business culture based on an isolated phenomenon that is yet to take off.
However, if sweatworking is set to experience a surge in popularity, we can speculate as to what this might mean for business people across the UK.
For some, the gym is strictly a post-work place of refuge where they can escape from the day’s pressures.
If you believe there is no purer antidote to eight hours spent analysing spreadsheets than the endorphin release experienced as a result of exercise, you probably won’t want to combine meetings with gym sessions.
For these people, sweatworking blurs work and leisure time, much in the same way that smart phones have led to employees checking their emails outside of working hours or when on holiday.
On the other hand, there are those who might be glad of the opportunity to go to the gym during working hours. For people who go to the gym at the end of the day only because their work schedule doesn’t allow them to do otherwise, sweatworking could actually improve their work-life balance.
Whether it is likely to take off is hard to say. I certainly wouldn’t suddenly schedule all meetings at gyms on a whim, but I also wouldn’t be completely closed to the idea of holding the occasional meeting outside of the usual corporate environment.
It may make a strange first impression were you to stage a new business pitch in a gym, but at the same time, it could be a helpful change of routine when meeting an internal team you’ve been working on a major project with.
I’ve always believed that new ways of working should be viewed in a balanced way. There’s nothing to be gained in desperately latching on to every passing fad in order to demonstrate you’re ahead of the curve. On the other hand, businesses stagnate when they begin to believe the way things are done is the only way things can ever be done.
I feel that’s a truth worth heeding, and it can be applied to more than just meetings at gyms
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