Performance hack – standing is good for the brain

Updated: 2 days ago

There are many little tricks you can use in the workplace to up your performance by a few percent. This week's performance hack is a simple one - standing.

When we stand (and, better yet, pace up and down) blood flows faster and our brains become more alert. That is why in 2018 Apple ensured that all its people at the company’s new California headquarters had been given standing desks, with chief executive Tim Cook describing sitting as “the new cancer”.

When we sit, our bodies switch into rest mode. Rest mode means not alert. Prolonged sitting has also been linked to reduced lifespan. This is an issue when on average employees sit for an average of ~60% of their working time.

There's various research out there on how standing does help to improve health, engagement and longer-term cognitive powers, so let's not get further into the science and simply suggest a few ways we can incorporate this little performance hack into our working lives:

  • Standing desks: Apple aren't the only ones investing in standing desks. The NHS have been trilling these with positive results on reducing 'sitting times'. Ask your boss for a standing desk. There are models can switch quickly from standing to sitting mode, so this doesn't mean you have to completely give up on sitting if you don't want to

  • Stand up when you need to: Just because everyone else is sitting, it doesn't mean you have to. I often stand in meetings when others are sitting. Added bonus - through simple body language you also appear more engaged and stand out from the rest

  • Stand ups: Agile enthusiasts will tell you all about the merits of stand ups at the start of the day, but why stop there? Have more standing meetings - everyone gets to stand

  • Walking meetings: Steve Jobs was famous for his walking meetings. When we wanted to get into something complicated, he often took people for a walk to talk through the problem.

Standing sounds so simple, but too many of us don't do it. Give it a try for a week and see how it goes.

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