It’s Time to Stand Up During Meetings

Not only are meetings in the workplace interminable, but they often run back to back. Without realizing, it’s easy to spend hours sitting around a conference table.

While we have reported previously the benefits of walking meetings, this week we’ve described a simple activity to do during meetings where walking may not be possible: Stand.

Standing meetings can be an effective tool for well-run workplace wellness programs that seek new ways to engage employees in healthy activities.

We’ve highlighted a report from Workplace Insights, which states: 

“People who stand in meetings may enjoy a number of health benefits, but it can also make them feel self-conscious, anxious about how others perceive them, and disengaged from the meeting.”

It continues: “These findings… suggest that efforts to encourage office workers to sit less and move more must acknowledge the realities of the workplace that conspire to keep people chained to their seats.”

It turns out, individuals perceive benefits from standing during meetings, but there clearly exist social barriers that a well-run workplace wellness program — through effective engagement and communications tactics — can address.

The authors interviewed 25 people about standing meetings:

  • “Some participants found standing unexpectedly physically taxing, reporting aches and pains, though this seemed to have arisen from their attempts to stand for the duration of the meeting. We did not instruct them to stand for the entirety of the meeting; because prolonged static standing can also harm health, the best strategy is to alternate between standing and sitting, or to move – for example, by rocking on your heels – while standing.”
  • “But the biggest issue people had with standing in meetings was that they found it a social minefield. The people we interviewed felt self-conscious while standing and worried that other attendees would see them as “attention seekers” because they were breaking an unwritten rule by not sitting.”

Other concerns:

  • “Standing when the meeting host was sitting would be seen as a challenge to the host’s authority.”
  • Standing would be interpreted as a lack of commitment to the meeting, as if they were getting ready to leave.”
  • “These concerns were most pronounced in serious or formal meetings. One person, for example, felt that it was inappropriate to stand when discussing job losses, for fear of being perceived to be belittling the seriousness of the meeting topic.”