There are four simple actions commonly played out in the meeting room. The first is to twiddle a pen in a hypnotic circular motion. The second is to practice a face that screams ‘look how interested I am’. The third is to cough over a vibrating phone and the latter is planning an escape route. To liven up conferences and keep workers alert however, meetings rooms could evolve into a seatless arena, a new study finds.
The study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, concluded that standing during meetings indirectly benefits work performance in organizations. The researchers from Olin Business School, Washington University, found that compared with sitting, groups who held meetings standing up were more excited and more open about ideas, which lead to better elaboration of information, indirectly benefitting group performance.
The authors suggest redesigning popular office areas that are used for meetings. Removing chairs could be a cost efficient method of revamping office space whilst also helping to promote better health by tackling the effects of prolonged sitting.
Andrew Knight, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Olin, said: “Organizations should design office spaces that facilitate non-sedentary work. Our study shows that even a small tweak to a physical space can alter how people work with one another.”
The study looked into the effect of standing versus sitting in correlation to productivity because of undergoing changes to workspace at the university. In particular, professor Knight wanted to investigate the uses of standing decks.
The participants were asked to work in teams for 30 minutes and develop a recruitment video for the university. The teams worked either in a room with chairs and a table or in a room without any seating. Performance was then measured in a number of ways. Importantly, psychological excitement of the participants was captured via sensors worn around the wrist that measured the amount of sweat produced, an indicator of “physiological arousal.”
Research assistants also rated the group’s teamworking skills and the quality of the final video production and the participants also rated how protective their team members were about their ideas in the meeting.
Results proved that the groups who were made to stand for their meetings had more physiological arousal than those who sat. The members of the sitting group also reported that individuals were more protective about their ideas.
The researchers say that standing reduces “territoriality” and leads to more information sharing, which accounted for the better quality videos produced by the standing groups, compared with the sitting groups.
Knight concludes: “We think that the future holds great promise for integrating wearable technology into research; our study is one example of how doing so can enrich a study.”
In April 2014, Medical News Today learned how researchers from Stanford University in California also found walking boosts creative thinking. They described how they compared creativity in people while they walked with while they sat and found creative output went up by an average of 60% while walking.
For the future of office space perhaps the larger, more open and free can be used for meetings, with the great outside offering all of these assets and more. Take out the chairs from an the usual meeting room or march the team into the car park to be creative on a sunny day.
How would you improve team meetings?