5 Reasons Why You Should Eliminate Chairs From Team Meetings

By Lexie Lu - Oct. 10, 2016
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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Lexie Lu. Her opinions are her own.

Take a quick walk around a corporate office and you’ll likely see some people standing at their desks working where a chair used to be. But it doesn’t stop there. You may also see groups of people standing around having a meeting. No need for a conference room with a large table.

What’s with all the standing? Are there truly benefits to it? Do standing meetings, also known as standups, check-ins or huddles, help teams accomplish more, or are they a corporate fad to accompany the latest set of fashionable buzzwords?

The standing meeting is a gift that comes from the world of Agile software development. Standups are primarily a way for project team members to give daily updates on what they did yesterday, what they’ll do today and any obstacles they’re running into. The frequency and focus can be altered to fit the needs of your team or project.

Standing meetings have distinct advantages over traditional meetings where team members sit and discuss their topics. Ditch the chairs and embrace a new way of conducting meetings to reap benefits ranging from higher productivity to better health. 

1. It’s a more efficient way to meet

Because standups are quick, happen regularly and take place in the location where the people are doing the work, rather than in a conference room, they create an environment that’s well-suited for efficiency. When was the last time you heard a colleague lament about the need for more and longer meetings? The opposite is generally true. You and your team members will appreciate the time you’ll save by running more efficient and effective meetings.

In fact, there are strategies to create a good standup meeting. Several things up the efficiency factor of standups and set them apart from traditional meetings. Participants in standing meetings should be there ready to share goals, problems and solutions with one another in the moment.

Issues can be identified and therefore addressed in a more timely manner. When issue do come up, the affected people know about it sooner and can begin to work toward a solution more quickly.

Tools such as visual management boards, also known an improvement boards, are an efficient way to acknowledge problems that need to be resolved. Using aids in standing meetings are one way to provide helpful visual cues to participants about what’s being discussed to keep the group on-task and moving swiftly through the topics.

2. Standing meetings get people talking

Standing meetings open lines of communication between team members. This type of meeting creates an opportunity to start meaningful conversations that will enhance your business and project work. If team members take information they’ve heard during a standing meeting and begin to collaborate on projects or seek support from one another, you know the meetings are useful. And the goal is to always hold valuable and effective meetings.

What you don’t want to happen is for people to sit in meetings and then walk away having had no meaningful dialogue, solved no problems, developed no plans or created no opportunities for follow-up. This, unfortunately, is the result of many meetings in the workplace that take at least an hour or more to conduct.

Because standing meetings are concise by design, they help people quickly make their point or get to the core of an issue. In longer, more formal meetings, people may meander when talking or cloud their main content with unnecessary details. This can cause someone who may have been a potential partner, or someone who could use the information to not grasp the main point and therefore not make the connection with the person presenting the information.

3. Standing is a healthy choice

Moving around and standing at work have both been shown to have health benefits. By standing at work, even briefly, you cause your muscles to contract and prompt your body to burn calories. This is a healthy option for people who normally work in a seated position for the majority of the day.

In fact, too much sitting can contribute to adverse health effects such as insulin resistance and the development of belly fat. Busy professionals who may have a hard time fitting an exercise routine in their busy schedules can benefit from any help in leading a healthy lifestyle.

Holding standup meetings creates an opportunity for team members to alternate their workspaces and encourages them to get out of their seats throughout the day.

4. The energy is higher

Professional people spend a good number of their working hours in meetings. If you’ve participated in your share of them, you know they can be draining at times. It’s not hard to imagine that 91 percent of people reported daydreaming during meetings and 39 percent have fallen asleep.

This can’t solely be because people are  not interested in the content being presented, or that their meetings take place after eating a big lunch. There’s a physiological rationale for why people are tuning out.

Sitting causes people to be less energetic overall, but holding standing meetings are one easy way to mitigate this unfavorable effect. Scientific evidence supports the benefits of standing because it releases endorphins, the naturally produced hormones that make you more alert and energetic.

Also, team members may exhibit more creativity and excitement when removed from a sedentary space. One study found that teams that stood had greater physiological arousal than teams that sat for meetings. By altering the environment where your team meets, you may be giving them subconscious permission to be more liberal with innovative ideas. People feed off one another’s energy, so if standing encourages a feeling of liveliness and high engagement with several team members, that will likely transfer to others in the group.

5. Changing the format can change the perception

Meetings are a function of business that can’t be eliminated.

They’ll exist as long as team members need to exchange ideas and information and come to consensus. But they do have a bad reputation for being time-consuming, boring and the reason people can’t get any real work done.

You still have to conduct meetings, so finding a way to keep people interested in them will benefit the entire group. When team members come with the expectation that the meeting will be focused, productive and efficient, it may yield better results.

While standups of today are credited with coming from the technology world, some military leaders held standups during World War I. They have a long history of being an effective communication channel, and the trend toward them is alive and well.

Some companies keep standing meetings interesting by adding rituals to them, such as starting and ending them with music to signal to participants that the meeting is beginning and ending. Others have incorporated fun rules such as having latecomers pay a small fine or sing a silly song in front of the group.

Managers can experiment with different ideas and find way to engage their teams.

Look at the projects your team is working on and evaluate your current meeting style. Are there opportunities for you to connect using the standup format? Whether your team is immediately receptive to the idea or they take some time to adopt the meeting style, there are clear advantages that make it worth trying.

Lexie Lu is a freelance designer and blogger. She contributes to the design world and always has a cup of coffee in close proximity.


Lexie Lu

Lexie Lu is a freelance designer and blogger. She contributes to the design world and always has a cup of coffee in close proximity.

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