World Team Travels the World

Nina doing a presentation for our partner on workplace health

For most jobs, meetings are a very familiar ritual. You walk in the meeting room, sit down, open your laptop and try to concentrate on the issues at hand for the next 30 minutes to an hour. The average worker spends around 6-hours a week sitting in meetings whereas senior managers can spend as much as 23 hours per week in meetings (Rogelberg, Scott, & Kello, 2007). That is a lot of time spent sitting and trying to focus one’s attention!

Judson doing behavioral mapping

During the World Team’s month long trip to Amsterdam and Nairobi, we spent a lot of time in (very productive!) meetings, and along the way found some new, exciting ways to engage in healthy, yet efficient meetings. Who knew that meetings could actually be healthy? Our partnerships are located around the world. We are currently working in the Netherlands, Kenya and Nigeria, and making an effort to personally visit all partners twice a year. During the month of July, we spent a week and a half in Amsterdam, and the rest of the month in Nairobi.

During our time in Amsterdam, we held a big mid-year presentation with each of our partners: Zilveren Kruis, the Joep Lange Institute, the PharmAccess Foundation and CarePay. We updated them on our work in 2019 so far, including progress of projects, results, learnings, and plans for the coming months. These big presentations were followed by insightful discussions, such as our partner steering committee meetings, where we were able to dive deeper into specific projects.

Nina and Jonathan discussing strategy with an Amsterdam collaborator

Overall, our meetings were extremely productive, and not at all redundant. What was the secret ingredient? We came to realize that different meeting types require different meeting formats. For larger groups, conference rooms might be most suitable, while for small one-on-one chats a walking meeting might be best. Being outside, feeling the fresh air, really helped us stay focused, while at the same time, getting some exercise. However, being active and healthy is not confined to the outdoor space. During our conference room meetings, we made the conscious choice to stand up now and then, and to stretch our legs while engaging in discussions. Spending too many hours sitting is hazardous, so changing your posture frequently helps reduce the risk for obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and deep-vein thrombosis. This prompted a more serious discussion on how to encourage standing meetings, which led to new projects aimed at getting people moving during meetings. We are very excited to be studying this topic in more detail during the coming months.

 

Hypertension/diabetes patient group

In addition to the physical positives that came from our partner meetings, we also aligned on many other project goals for the coming six months. For example, we spoke a great deal about our non-communicable disease (NCD) work currently taking place in Kenya. These discussions led to a series of very interesting and eye-opening meetings once we arrived in Nairobi. During our time there, we attended an NCD screening at a local employer, a meeting of NCD patients at a clinic, and a meeting with our partner’s agents who enroll individuals into the NCD program. Each of these meetings gave us deeper insights into the complex issues surrounding NCDs, and inspired new ideas for interventions to improve the screening and enrollment process, including: 1) using a sticker as a social proof/pressure device for employer screenings, similar to an “I voted” sticker, 2) simplifying the current NCD app to reduce confusion and friction, and 3) focusing on specific, singular unhealthy behaviors that individuals can work on to improve their health and NCD status. We hope to test some of these interventions in the coming months, so stay tuned!

 

Jan Willem helping with measuring blood pressure

Jan Willem experiencing “fear of the finger prick”

As you can see, (the right kind of) meetings can be a great source of productivity and creativity. Finding and employing the right meeting format, and focusing the right people on the right topics, can make meetings not only constructive, but also fun! We hope to continue to test and use these insights in our partner work, as well as our own work at CAH. So if you visit CAH soon and see everyone just standing around, it means we’re really working hard!

The World team post glorious combat – Judson and Jonathan’s team won

 

Are you interested in the partnership on workplace health? Contact Nina, Partnership Lead, at nina.bartmann@duke.edu

Are you interested in the partnership on healthcare in Africa? Contact Judson, Partnership Lead, at judson.bonick@duke.edu

Is your organization in any other way interested in CAH World? Contact Jan Willem Lindemans, Principal, at jan.lindemans@duke.edu.