Technology creates more social isolation at work, even as it makes us more productive in other ways. One way to connect with your team: exercise with your coworkers.
When I started at PayScale 11 years ago, we were small enough to really know everyone. As we’ve grown to over 450 people, it can be hard to even know all the teams, let alone all the people. We’ve explored several ways to break down silos, but one of the most effective has been our exercise groups.
Five years ago, another engineering director and I decided that we wanted to run a marathon. In Seattle, unless you are OK always running in the dark, you need to get your runs in during lunch. So, we started a running club at work.
We’d run anywhere from three to eight miles at lunch, depending on what Hal Higdon told us to do. As we trained, people from other teams started joining us. Eventually, we had a group of runners who liked running at lunch, and we would just group up when convenient.
The groups that formed had to do with speed and time availability. Nothing to do with what team you were on. And, we’ve had people from almost every team in the Seattle office participate at one-time-or-another. Some of my best coworker friends have come through this group.
How can you start a running club at your company?
- Find showers nearby. We have showers at our office, but there is a gym nearby that does $20/month “shower only” memberships. You may have something similar.
- Start a slack channel, email list, or whatever.
- Ping your group of runners, find someone(s).
- Go run.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 a few times a week.
As the company has grown, these running groups have been invaluable to cross-team communication, coordination and collaboration.
Are they perfect? Not even close. Obviously, they’re not accessible to differently-abled employees or people who just don’t like to run. On top of that, different people like to run at different speeds, so it can be difficult to coordinate. But, on balance, I think this has been a great program.
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