September 30, 2023


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‘Let’s do lunch’ in COVID times now means biking, hiking meetings

When COVID-19 hit, it upended the workplace tradition of the business lunch.

Now Jeremy Welt, a marketing consultant, takes his meetings on bike rides or canyon hikes.

“It just got to the point where it was time to meet with people again and go beyond the phone, beyond the Zoom call,” Welt says. “And being outside just seemed safer.”

Living in L.A., where it can be perpetually 72 degrees, helps. There are bike trails up and down the state, many car free and by the beach, and canyon trails that attract lovers of the outdoors year round.

Interviews with several people who have ditched the lunch for the 2020 version of the business golf outing say they don’t want to go back to the old way in post-COVID times. They feel healthier being outside and less distracted.

Alex Kruglov and Jeremy Welt take a bike meeting in Venice, California as an alternative to the Hollywood lunch

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Natalie Barrad, who runs a marketing company in Aliso Viejo, California, near Los Angeles, has been hiking, biking and even swimming with clients.

“The traditional ways we used to meet are no longer, so now we’ve become creative in the ways we get together with clients or peers,” she says. Barrad has scheduled swim workouts at a local pool, to “talk strategy” in between laps.

“The intensity of the workout isn’t the same, but you’re not checking your phone and you can stay on topic,” she says. And by putting in some laps in between the conversation, “it gives you an opportunity to digest what was just said, and come back with another thought.”

Natalie Barrad (in the Kandu hat) with colleague (Michael Collins) and swimmer Delaney Lindahl after a recent swim meet.

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As she noted, “No more coffee shops anymore.”

Starbucks, Peet’s Coffee, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, and other chains were the types of places business people gathered to meet up for years. But in COVID-19 times, they are either closed for inside seating or have limited outside seating. For people worried about being closer than 6 feet from one another, that could be a problem.