It’s hard to avoid a sedentary workday when you have an office job. And while exercise balls and stand-up desks help combat our stagnant office lifestyle, some companies are going a step further by introducing stand-up meetings as a method to offset the desk-bound workplace.
“Adults are spending about 10 hours a day being sedentary and most of that time is spent during work hours,” says Leigh Vanderloo, manager of knowledge transfer at Participaction, whose company tagline is: It’s time for Canada to sit less and move more. “Because of the number of physiological and psychosocial events that come with that, we want to find ways to break up some of those prolonged periods of sitting. One great way is to consider a stand-up or walking meeting.”
Keeping a stand-up meeting to 15 minutes is the ideal so employees don’t get tired, she notes. A shorter meeting time also ensures the conversation stays on track. Experts recommend no more than two to six employees per walking meeting, that way everyone can actively participate in the discussion and no one needs to shout. Some companies even provide staff with pre-mapped walking routes to encourage the walk-and-talk. Benefits extend not just to health, but productivity, too. The Harvard Business Review reports those who participate in stand-up meetings note a 5.25 per cent boost in creativity and 8 per cent boost in engagement.
About four years ago, Allstate Insurance Company of Canada introduced walking meetings to their staff. This past June kicked off the company-wide walking group initiative, which encourages employees to join a 15-minute walk twice a week.
“This initiative, as well as countless others that promote employees stepping away from their desks, have and continue to provide employees with the opportunity to enjoy a change of scenery, fresh air and a new way of thinking,” says Ryan Michel, president and CEO of the company. “By incorporating movement into our workday, we are able to break up the sedentary desk aspect of many employees’ day-to-day tasks.”
Allstate management has seen a positive impact among their employees. “Physical and mental wellness are interconnected. When we feel stressed about one aspect of our lives, it can affect our overall well-being and performance,” says Michel.
Thy Dinh, director of health economics at the Conference Board of Canada, stresses this top-down leadership as a key to success. “The most important thing is it’s not just about changing the physical environment, but it has to come from the top, from corporate and management to really buy into it,” she says.
Introducing stand-up or walking meetings has economic benefits, too. “When employees are healthy they can avoid certain diseases,” says Dinh. “When you have employees who are sick, they require more sick days and more health benefits.” Increased blood flow from moving around also helps boost creativity, which has a positive effect on productivity output.
Participaction’s Vanderloo also believes in the top-down approach to initiating the desired culture shift. Outside the meeting rooms at the Participaction office hang signs that read “sitting is optional,” which gives employees permission to stand and avoid what may feel taboo when everyone else is sitting. There are also hour glasses in the meeting rooms—once the 30-minute mark hits, everyone takes a standing break.
“You can stand even for just five or six minutes,” she says. “The thing that’s most toxic to our health is just sitting uninterrupted with no movement. Anything that will break it up is better.”
So if you haven’t stood up in the past hour, now is the time.
BENEFIT FROM CPA’S WORK-LIFE BALANCE TIPS
It helps to have a career you love! From sleeping patterns to stress levels, find out how your job has a significant impact on your daily life. Also, when you’re away on vacation, make sure to take time out and unplug from the office so you can rest and rejuvenate.