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Standing During Meetings Boosts Productivity, Study Reports

Update Date: Jun 23, 2014 09:52 AM EDT

People with office jobs are often sitting all day long. Several studies have found that prolonged sitting can be detrimental to one's health. These researchers have recommended adding standing workstations or walking stations to improve one's physical health. In a new study, researchers from Washington University in St, Louis, MI, found that standing during meetings can boost productivity and creativity.

"A workspace that encourages people to stand up is going to lead to more collaborative and more creative outputs," Andrew Knight stated according to Reuters Health. "I had read some of the research on non-sedentary work and standing desks that was focused on individual physiological benefits, but we were really intrigued and excited to see how the physical space might alter literally how people are interacting with and relating to one another over the course of the meeting."

For this study, the team recruited 214 student volunteers who were divided into 54 small groups made up of three to four people. The students were instructed to work together for 30 minutes in order to create a university recruitment video. A research assistant recorded the video, and rated the groups' videos and their ability to work together. The students were asked to rate their teammates' territorial behaviors.

The groups worked in a room that had one white board, a rectangular table with chairs or no chairs, and two easels. The researchers measured physiological arousal with small sensors.

"A primary function of arousal is to signal the importance or significance of environmental stimuli and prepare the body for action," Knight and co-author, Markus Baer wrote. "In social situations, joint experiences of arousal promote affiliation and collective sensemaking, both of which are essential for motivating collective action."

Knight and Baer reported that student groups who worked in the rooms without chairs had greater group arousal and better information and ideas sharing. Students in these groups were also more likely to report lower levels of territorial behaviors. The researchers reasoned that when people are standing, they become more integrated with one another because there are no designated spaces, which can promote co-creating.

"Organizations should design office spaces that facilitate non-sedentary work," Knight concluded according to the university's news release.

The study, "Get Up, Stand Up. The Effects of a Non-Sedentary Workspace on Information Elaboration and Group Performance," was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.

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