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Time to think on your feet

1st November 2013
Figure 2 Informal standing up meeting tables at Vodafone, Amsterdam

Figure 1 Informal standing up meeting tables at Vodafone, Amsterdam

Standing up working has been receiving a large amount of media attention from various media outlets as a positive change in the way we work. There have been various historical figures that have advocated the benefits of standing up working, including the likes of Donald Rumsvelt, Ernst Hemmingway and Winston Churchill. With many modern knowledge workers working within increasingly sedentary environments, organisations are seeking ways to reduce these sedentary ways of working, with the aim of producing benefits that include improved health of staff, and greater productivity at work. Leading organisations that have sought to introduce standing up working as an effective way of working include Telstra, Vodafone, Microsoft and Plantronics.

Research has suggested that prolonged periods of sitting can contribute to increased risk of diabetes, various cardiovascular diseases and muscular skeletal injuries that are becoming so common within the office today. These are worrying findings when one considers that many sedentary workers in the UK now are sitting down for more than 12 hours of the day.

Figure 2 Standing up meetings at Microsoft in Amsterdam

Figure 2 Standing up meetings at Microsoft in Amsterdam

Standing up working can be used as an effective means of combating these sedentary work styles. Research has found that standing working increases heart rate and calorie burning at work. The study has indicated that staff who stand for three hours of each day burn 750 calories more than their sedentary colleagues each week.

Standing up working has other benefits beyond the improved health and wellbeing of employees – it is also an effective way to increase the speed of meetings within some activity based working environments. At Vodafone in Amsterdam meetings that ‘meetings that previously took one hour now mostly take between 30 minutes and 45 minutes’ when conducted in standing meeting rooms compared to sitting equivalents according to David Savage, Customer Solution Centre Manager. This has been backed up by research which has suggested shorter meetings do not contribute to poorer decision making induced by standing working practices.

It’s high time organisations start thinking on their feet and introduce standing up working in every workplace, as a means of promoting more effective working, improving staff wellbeing and inducing greater productivity at work.

Co-authored by Jacob Ward and Kit Lewin

In future of work, New Ways of Working Case Studies

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