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Standing May Deliver More Creative and Productive Office Meeting Results

By , June 22nd, 2014 | 12 Comments »

study: stand-up meetings are more productive than sitting
If you want to make your business meetings more productive and engaging for all those involved, possibly the best move you can make is to remove all the chairs from the room. A recent study from Washington University in St. Louis suggests standing when conducting meetings provides for more engagement, collaboration and creativity than the standard meeting where everybody sits around an office table. The study was published on June 12, 2014, in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

In the study, researchers asked 214 students to form themselves into small groups of up to five members each. The students created 54 groups, and each group was assigned the task to create a university recruitment video within 30 minutes. All participants were equipped with sensor gear able to measure how active and engaged they were during the group activity. The groups were told the video they created would be assessed by its creativity.

Each group of participants was placed in one of two rooms. One room contained a whiteboard, two writing easels with large notepads, writing markers, and a meeting table. The other room had the the same items, but also had five chairs around the meeting table. The only difference in the rooms were the five chairs around the table.

The research showed those groups who had no chairs in the room, and therefore had to stand to conduct their planning, tended to collaborate more with each other compared to the groups who were able to sit down for the meeting. Furthermore, a survey taken by the participants after performing the task showed those who were only able to stand were less territorial than the members of the groups who were able to sit. The researchers also found the standing groups produced more creative final videos than the sitting groups.

The results of the study suggest companies should design their office spaces in such a way that encourages their employees to be more active in meeting environments, as doing so produces a more positive collaborative influence for those meetings. Andrew Knight and Markus Baer, the lead researchers of the study concluded, “Our findings suggest that, in addition to the physiological benefits of nonsedentary work designs, getting people out of their chairs at work may increase their capacity for collaborative knowledge work. Adopting a nonsedentary workspace may have benefits not just for individual physical health but also for group performance on knowledge work tasks.”

(Photo courtesy of Improve It)

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  • Jim says:

    I totally agree. I recently wrote a program that reminds me to stand up at my desk every ten minutes and move a bit. I usually do Qi Gong or yoga-type stretch movements, standing calisthenics or isometrics. It has makes a huge difference in my energy and sense of fitness; probably the biggest single improvement in fitness maintenance that I have made in 20 years.

    There are programs for this available on the web

  • John R Wormington says:

    Back to the future:

    Nimitz would lead him into the chief of staff’s office and turn him over to Spruance. In this office few visitors lingered long, for it contained no chairs. E. B. Potter

    [Adm Spruance had a specially built desk so that he could work standing up. All staff meetings were ‘stand up’ meetings]

  • Jim says:

    This was suggested in a book by the founder of Avis Car rental written years ago. I think it was Up the Organization, where he sited several suggestions to improve the operation of a company. One was to post your name with your pay on the bulltin board, if someone complained, work harder to get to where you are. Meetings would be a lot shorter and progessive if everyone stood, no chairs. Avis moto was”We’re second but we try harder” I may be off on some of the info but I remember the quote on no chairs.

  • Stephen Smith says:

    There is one “minor” problem with this technique: It is discriminatory. Many persons (myself included) suffer serious low back pain from standing too long without moving around (and sometimes even with moving around). “Too long” varies, but can be as short as a few minutes.

    So this sort of “standing room only” participation would make my own ability to participate very difficult or even impossible.

    • Greg says:

      If that’s discriminatory, than I’m being discriminated because I have an infected left toe and have to where shoes to work. Get a life man.

  • LouAZ says:

    Improve productivity ? QUIT HAVING MEETINGS ! This Mythical Idea comes from the Queen of England’s daily meetings. I had a Boss that decided it was a good idea to adopt, and all it did was make him act like the King of England. He would go on and on and on and what would have been a 15 min meeting turned into an hour and NOTHING really got settled about ANYTHING.

  • Interesting one, usually meeting can be a boring one and standing meetings would totally let the employees to participate more and be more active rather than sitting until the meeting is done. I had attended a seminar before, we are asked to stand one to two hours during the seminar.

  • Leopold Dilg says:

    This comes from agile methodologies. The daily standup is just that. 5 minutes where everyone says what’ve done, what they plan on doing that day, and any roadblocks. Of course I’ve seen daily standups where no-one is standing up and ones that go off on a tangent I like the ides of standing up no matter what the reason.

  • TinyKing says:

    Standing keeps the blood flowing better. I think everyone would be “more on their toes”. Seems like a great idea to get the conversation going and to keep the ideas flowing.
    I love it!

  • Bill says:

    In most fields, academia leads. Except in business school, where they can’t study anything until it’s already been done. This is old news. Why is it even being discussed? I agree with an earlier post. Why even have meetings? If the extent of your contribution is to facilitate or lead meetings, then your contribution to the organization is zero.

  • Gailete says:

    Greg, sorry about your infected toe man and needing to wear shoes, but some of us truly can’t be standing around without severe pain and just not for the amount of time it takes a toe to heal. I also hate meetings and am so glad that now I’m on disability I never have to attend another one, where nothing generally gets done, or someone takes credit for another’s work and you can’t correct things without looking like a whiner, they are time wasters.


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