At Your Desk? Stand Up and You'll Be More Creative

Back when I was first working I had a boss who had a stand-up desk.  You'd go into his office and he'd be standing while on the phone or typing on his keypad.  When we had meetings, he was standing most of the time.

We all thought he was a little crazy.  Now a new study proves he was not.  (At least, about the standing!).

We've recently learned that people who sit too much die younger. But research done by Washington University in Saint Louis has uncovered that standing up during meetings may make your creativity flair.

Removing chairs could be a low-cost way to redesign an office space while also tackling the health effects of sitting in one place for too long, and this just adds to mounting evidence that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for people’s health.

"Chairs provide great support during long meetings, but they may also be holding us back," says "Standing during meetings boosts the excitement around creative group processes and reduces people’s tendencies to defend their turf."

“Organizations should design office spaces that facilitate non-sedentary work,” the Web site quotes Andrew Knight, PhD, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Olin Business School. "“Our study shows that even a small tweak to a physical space can alter how people work with one another,” he says.

Knight and  Markus Baer, PhD, associate professor of organizational behavior at Olin, got the idea as new buildings were being constructed at their university.  Baer recently published a new paper, “Get Up, Stand Up: The Effects of a Non-Sedentary Workspace on Information Elaboration and Group Performance."

“Markus and I were particularly interested in the role of a sedentary workspace because standing desks were a new option that was available to faculty members for outfitting their offices,” Knight says. “We wondered how this type of arrangement would play out for people working together in a group to achieve a collective goal.”

So they set up teams, one of which was asked to work standing up, and the other, seated.

In the study Knight and Baer found that the teams who stood had greater physiological arousal and were less territorial about ideas than those in the seated arrangement. Members of the standing groups reported that their team members were less protective of their ideas, according to This reduced territoriality, led to more information sharing and higher work quality.

“Seeing that the physical space in which a group works can alter how people think about their work and how they relate with one another was very exciting,” Knight says.

I still think my old boss was crazy (he ate lentils and sesame seeds for snacks).  But maybe he was just a little ahead of his time.  


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