The study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, concluded, standing during meetings indirectly benefits work performance in organisations. The researchers from Olin Business School, Washington University, found when 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 which are used for meetings. Removing chairs may 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 organisational behavior at Olin, said: “Organisations should design office spaces which facilitate non-sedentary work. Our study shows, even a small tweak to a physical space may 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 desks. 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 which 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 which 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 which individuals were more protective about their ideas.
The researchers say, 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 the future holds great promise for integrating wearable technology into research; our study is one example of how doing so [may] enrich a study.”
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 approach may be used for meetings, with the great outdoors offering all of these assets and more. Take out the chairs from the usual meeting room or march the team into the car park to be creative on a sunny day.
How might one improve team meetings?