You’re already thinking of ditching the chair at your desk; it may be time to ditch the chairs in the conference room too.
According to a study published in Social Psychological & Personality Science, groups are better at brainstorming if they stand. Researchers recruited 214 undergraduates to work in groups of three to five people. They were to spend half an hour coming up with a plan, and then they would shoot a university recruitment video. Researchers had them wear devices that measured how sweaty they became (or, more technically, their arousal levels—no, not that kind). Half the groups were in conference rooms with chairs, and half were in rooms without. All groups were filmed.
The groups sans chairs had higher arousal and reduced territoriality. This means they were more reactive to stimuli—a rare commodity in most conference rooms—and they were less likely to feel possessive of ideas they generated. Both are good for generating ideas, in that they help people combine and improve ideas.
The downside of the study is that, when all videos were judged, no groups were on average better. However, even if the end products ended up being the same, it’s worth pointing out that the group brainstorming without chairs got there more painlessly—which, frankly, is all we want from group brainstorming sessions anyway.