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“Could you sit down please?” A qualitative analysis of employees’ experiences of standing in normally-seated workplace meetings
journal contributionposted on 2023-07-26, 14:20 authored by Louise Mansfield, Jennifer Hall, Lee Smith, Molly Rasch, Emily Reeves, Stephen Dewitt, Benjamin Gardner
Office workers spend most of their working day sitting, and prolonged sitting has been associated with increased risk of poor health. Standing in meetings has been proposed as a strategy by which to reduce workplace sitting but little is known about the standing experience. This study documented workers’ experiences of standing in normally seated meetings. Twenty-five participants (18+ years), recruited from three UK universities, volunteered to stand in 3 separate, seated meetings that they were already scheduled to attend. They were instructed to stand when and for however long they deemed appropriate, and gave semi-structured interviews after each meeting. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using Framework Analysis. Four themes, central to the experience of standing in meetings, were extracted: physical challenges to standing; implications of standing for meeting engagement; standing as norm violation; and standing as appropriation of power. Participants typically experienced some physical discomfort from prolonged standing, apparently due to choosing to stand for as long as possible, and noted practical difficulties of fully engaging in meetings while standing. Many participants experienced marked psychological discomfort due to concern at being seen to be violating a strong perceived sitting norm. While standing when leading the meeting was felt to confer a sense of power and control, when not leading the meeting participants felt uncomfortable at being misperceived to be challenging the authority of other attendees. These findings reveal important barriers to standing in normally-seated meetings, and suggest strategies for acclimatising to standing during meetings. Physical discomfort might be offset by building standing time slowly and incorporating more sit-stand transitions. Psychological discomfort may be lessened by notifying other attendees about intentions to stand. Organisational buy-in to promotional strategies for standing may be required to dispel perceptions of sitting norms, and to progress a wider workplace health and wellbeing agenda.
Publication titlePLOS ONE
PublisherPublic Library of Science
- Published version