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For Better Work Performance, Stand During Meetings

Xavi Talleda/

Standing during meetings benefits work performance, according to a recent study, which found that standing groups were less territorial over their ideas. 

Ditmire: Professor Andrew Knight and his colleagues at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis were talking about new office furniture one minute, and a more interesting management question the next. 

Knight: There was the option of a standing desk an adjustable height desk that faculty members could use. We just started kind speculating about what the impact of standing meetings for groups might be on how they interact with one another; how they come up with ideas. And so we went through the process of thinking about what might happen if we got rid of the traditional conference table set up and chairs, and instead presented people with an environment in which it was carefree and non sedentary. 

Ditmire: They gathered two groups of college students and told them to discuss a project. 

Knight: Some groups were randomly put into a room that had a traditional conference table and chair set up and other groups were randomly put into non sedentary space that was chair free. 

Ditmire: And outfitted them in wearable technology. 

Knight: We used bracelets that individuals wore that tracked activation of their sympathetic nervous system. It measured how physiologically activated their bodies were. 

Ditmire: And discovered that the standing meeting group was much more collaborative. 

Knight: The people in those groups would hear something that someone else said and they would build upon that idea. And then someone else in the group would kind of take that idea and expand upon it further.

Ditmire: And less territorial. 

Knight: So if you think about a brainstorming meeting, people have their own ideas they throw out on the table. And in the standing meeting, people were comfortable and willing for others to build upon and take their ideas and run with them. In the sitting meeting, people were more protective over their individual contributions, and were more individually focused as opposed to collaboratively focused. 

Ditmire: Knight says the study shows movement in a meeting is good for the body and the mind. 

Knight: I think what we’ve seen a lot in the media is that those health benefits are very real the health benefits of adopting more non sedentary lifestyle. But beyond that, there are also some benefits when people are working together in groups a standing format can lead to a collaborative and more interdependent meetings.