Incorporating a mashup of ‘working out’ and ‘networking’, ‘Sweatworking’ is the latest buzzword trending in the social fitness scene at the moment, as we continue to find ways to engineer our corporate routines into healthier environments. The term is actually not a brand new one, it has been around for a few years, but fitness is having its moment right now, fostering our current obsession with health and mindfulness, in a world saturated with fitness Instagrammers and yoga YouTubers. The time to talk about healthy networking, or ‘sweatworking’ shall we say, is now.

What does ‘sweatworking’ entail?

There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to ‘sweatworking’, but the basic idea is to work up a sweat while you network – it’s about reducing the gap between working and working out, and it appeals to people interested in fully optimising their time, who are looking to get ahead career-wise while keeping fit simultaneously. To be able to incorporate some interesting and potentially valuable networking opportunities into the mix, just seems like an easy win.

The thing is, when I think of networking for business – whether that be with prospective clients, or potential employers, I am not so sure that I want to be sweaty and out of breath for the duration of the experience. Actually that could be misconstrued entirely, so just to reword that: I am wondering whether a gym session is really the best way to go about it? So let’s break it down. As employers we are looking to expand our teams not only to intelligent minds that can get the job done, we also want team players who are healthy, happy and motivated – and we already know that sport is a great way to find all of those things. Equally, from the viewpoint of a job-seeker, we are looking for employers who will mentor and motivate us, those we can learn from and bounce off of – and health is an intrinsic base requirement when it comes to achieving any of these qualities and excelling at what we do in daily life.

tennis handshake
Wikipedia Commons

So why is ‘sweatworking’ so good for us?

Think of team sports, and what that shared experience gives you; it’s about creating a bond, a team spirit and it centres on a shared interest of that particular sport, or fitness more generally. When we attribute these qualities to a business context, the values are just as worthy – the barriers come down in sport – we are more relaxed, it’s easier to express ourselves naturally, and in this context we are likely to build a more genuine relationship. This is so important when it comes to business and applying these qualities to a corporate environment, in building trust, a shared experience and taking a forward thinking and healthy approach to both life and the world of business. A game of tennis with your boss could go a long way after all.

1. It breaks down barriers. Sport is a great way to put ourselves on an even kilter; it breaks down the natural pecking order, which is what builds tension and creates nervousness for many, so it’s easier to start up a conversation. You don’t have to worry so much about things like eye contact or body language, because you’re both consumed by the activity.

2. It’s great for team building. You don’t necessarily need to be ‘sweatworking’ with people you’ve never met before, you could be doing so with your team in a bid to get to know them better. Sport is all about the camaraderie after all – it’s about being part of a team, and succeeding as part of a team, so what better way to instil the right ethos than using fitness as a motivating tool for the office?

fitness teambuilding
Wikipedia Commons

3. It reveals your soft skill set. Companies are looking for all-rounded personalities who can adapt to and handle different situations that are thrown their way, and a great way to test a candidate’s sense of adaptivity and proactivity is through sport. You will see people come out of their comfort zones, or fall completely into them actually; you will see them fall and get back up again, and understand how they handle a challenge. A soft skill set is really important from a career perspective, and sport can show people excelling in different ways – with physical strength, coordination, tactic, a positive mental attitude – and these are all transferable skills to a corporate environment, particularly for those in team-leading positions.

4. It gets us away from all that sitting. Desk jobs are detrimental to our health if we do just that – sit at our desks all day long. We need to think about healthier ergonomics, be more dynamic, take regular breaks, have breakout sessions to take us away from our screens. If work is the direction of the conversation, then what’s stopping us from taking that conversation to a healthier domain? It’s good to break away from the age-old networking construct of drinks and hors d’oeuvres; try a spinning class, a game of tennis, a Pilates session – and see where the conversation takes you.

5. It fosters relationships on a different level. It’s important to see your workforce, or prospective business partners as all-rounded people; it’s not all about the credentials on paper, as people’s strengths may lie elsewhere – particularly for those in Sales, PR and Business Development roles – where networking is what they do. It’s good to uncover a likability factor, and ‘sweatworking’ provides a good forum for it. On the flip side, you could uncover evidence of poor sportsmanship, which is also good to know before you go into business with someone.

So give it a go! Think outside of the box, and try something a little different next time you do some networking, and see how ‘sweatworking’ works out for you. This city is teeming with fitness ideas and sports activities, so you don’t have to look far to get in on the action!


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