How many times have you heard (or said), “Let’s meet at the coffee shop?”
But then you get there, and finding open seats together takes 10 minutes. Or there’s a grinder overpowering any conversation you’re trying to have. Or someone’s having a distractingly personal discussion nearby.
Finding a good, productive meeting space can be a challenge, but no one ever said a meeting needed chairs and a computer screen. Instead, think about your next meeting as a chance to sneak in some local exploring. If your workplace is strapped for conference space, or if you just need a break from the office, consider one of these alternative meeting spots instead.
A walking path
Thanks to the Fitbit revolution, more and more workers are taking their meetings by foot. But rather than walking around an office building or making a call at a treadmill desk, take advantage of this time to get out and see your local surroundings. Determine how much time you’ll need to meet, then pick a local path to meander on. It could be a 15-minute chat along New York’s High Line, a 30-minute stroll past monuments to Lincoln and Washington around the National Mall in D.C., or an hour-long walk along Chicago’s Lakefront Trail.
A farmers’ market
If you need to do some brainstorming but the creative juices aren’t bubbling, take the team on a walk around a local food or crafts market. The colors, textures, smells and entrepreneurial spirit are excellent inspiration. Check out what’s on tap at the Portland Saturday Market or browse local farm goods at the SFC Farmers’ Market in Austin (plus it makes working on the weekend less painful). Don’t worry if the weather’s not cooperating—indoor emporiums like Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market and Los Angeles’s Grand Central Market can be just as productive (and are open all week).
An indoor green space
Nothing calms the nerves or eases tension like a leafy setting. While you may have to do a little digging to find one in your town, many of them are free and open to the public. In Washington D.C., the United States Botanic Garden has a jungle atrium that stays warm and tropical all year, and admission is free. In New York, the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center has a large, airy indoor space where bright green plants crawl up the immense wall.
An art fair
Much like the markets above, art fairs can be wonderful places to pick up ideas, chat with other creatives about their process, and let your team’s minds wander to its next light bulb moment. If you live in Miami, you know the mob scene that Art Basel Miami Beach can be, but some installations provide good meeting spots. But you don’t need a major international show—in fact, the smaller local fairs are a great place to walk, talk and absorb inspiration from local artists.