Non-sedentary work configurations, which encourage standing rather than sitting in the course of work, are becoming increasingly prevalent in organizations. In this article, we build and test theory about how non-sedentary arrangements influence interpersonal processes in groups performing knowledge work—tasks that require groups to combine information to develop creative ideas and solve problems. We propose that a non-sedentary workspace increases group arousal, while at the same time decreasing group idea territoriality, both of which result in better information elaboration and, indirectly, better group performance. The results of an experimental study of 54 groups engaged in a creative task provide support for this dual pathway model and underscore the important role of the physical space in which a group works as a contextual input to group processes and outcomes.
Group arousal: Electrodermal activity (EDA). Group idea territoriality: Posttask survey responses provided by participants on the perceived protectiveness of others in the group towards their ideas (5-point scale). Group information elaboration: 3rd-party ratings of video recordings of group interactions. Raters used a 5-point scale and were blind to the research hypothesis. Group performance: Assistants from the university independently rated overall quality of each group's video based on the objective the groups were given (5-item measure).
Working in non-sedentary space marginally increased group arousal (B=0.09, p=0.06), decreased group territorial behaviour (B=-0.25, p=0.05) and increased information elaboration (B=0.34, p=0.02). There was no significant direct effect of workspace condition on group performance. Bivariate correlation between group territorial behaviour and information elaboration (r=-.21, p > .10) did not reach statistical significance. After controlling for covariates, working in a non-sedentary space increased group arousal (β=0.25, p<0.5) and group arousal was positively related to information elaboration (β=0.27,p<0.5). Also decreased idea territoriality (β=-.28,p<0.1), which was negatively associated to information elaboration (β=-0.32, p<0.01). The total indirect effect of workspace on elaboration was significant.