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HR Tip: Standing meetings improve creativity, teamwork

Standing during meetings boosts the excitement around creative group processes and reduces people's tendencies to defend their turf, report researchers from Washington University in St. Louis in a new paper, "Get Up, Stand Up: The Effects of a Non-Sedentary Workspace on Information Elaboration and Group Performance," published online June 12 in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Participants worked together in teams for 30 minutes to develop and record a university recruitment video. Some worked in rooms with chairs arranged around a table, others in rooms with no chairs at all. After making the videos, research assistants rated how the team worked together and the quality of the videos, while the participants rated how territorial their team members were in the group process. Participants also wore small sensors around their wrists to measure "physiological arousal" - the way people's bodies react when they get excited.

The researchers, Andrew Knight, PhD and Markus Baer, PhD, found that the standing teams had greater physiological arousal and were less territorial about ideas than those in the seated arrangement. This reduced territoriality, led to more information sharing, and to higher-quality videos.

In addition to promoting brainstorming and collaboration, the standing meeting helps tackle the negative health effects of a sedentary office environment. Experimenting helps; even small tweaks in physical spaces can alter how people work together.