Standing Meetings More Productive, Study Suggests

Want to improve the efficiency of your work team? Then have everyone stand up at the next meeting. A new study shows that standing during work meetings can actually improve employee performance.

The study was led by a pair of researchers — Andrew Knight and Markus Baer — from the Olin Business School, which is based at Washington University in St. Louis. Knight and Baer split their participants into two teams and tasked both with developing and recording a recruitment video for the university. But only one team was given chairs and a table, while the second group worked in a room with no seating whatsoever.

Research assistants then looked for a number of signs among the workers. How energetic was each group? How guarded were team members about their ideas?

To measure workers’ energy, Knight and Baer equipped participants with wearable technology capable of measuring the amount of sweat produced in their meetings.

In the end, the research team found that the workers in the standing group became more excited about their recruitment project and reached a high “physiological arousal.” They suggest that standing reduced the workers’ “territoriality”, which led to more information sharing, better cooperation, and better quality recruitment videos.

Knight says he found it “very exciting” to see how physical space can directly impact productivity and how people think about their work and their co-workers.

Knight also went on to suggest that wearable technology, like the sensors used to track physiological arousal, shows some incredible potential.

“We think that the future holds great promise for integrating wearable technology into research,” Knight said. “Our study is one example of how doing so can enrich a study.”

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