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the morning huddle

The Morning Huddle

Sir Richard Branson writes: “Living up to my love of screwing business as usual, I like to take a different approach to meetings. One of my favourite tricks is to conduct meetings standing up, I find it to be a quicker way of getting down to business, making a decision and sealing the deal” and we can’t agree more!

Times are changing and so as major businesses as we see small firms and corporations do more to take care of their employees. And we are not just talking about the trendy Silicon Valley startups. From reinventing organization design to improving employee experience, the latest workplace trends show that work can be less of a drag.

Standing desks, better health programs and ping pong tables are certainly in. Cool offices with comfy chairs and huge conference areas are a thing now to compete and attract great talents. But there certainly is more to stylish office furniture than good taste. The idea behind it is that brainstorm sessions and group discussions carried out in a conducive environment are supposed to foster productivity and collaboration. But why is it that team meetings are seen as one of the biggest time-wasters within organizations?

Team meetings are counterproductive and costly when done wrong the way. And this is why many forward-thinking leaders are ditching the old-school boardroom talks for the more agile standing meetings. Virgin Records CEO Richard Branson conducts walking meetings,
while mobile games company Genera, likes to shoot hoops with the team, and many more businesses are doing the same.

Stand-up meetings or morning huddles are regular and consistent sessions that run for not more than 15 minutes and are usually done standing. Talking or listening while on your feet versus slouching on a chair promotes alertness keeps meetings short and focused. The huddles that teams implement today are said to have come from Agile and Scrum methodologies that are still widely practiced by software development teams.

There are several studies that have looked into the positive effects of stand-up meetings on work dynamics. One remarkable findings in a 2014 study by Washington University researchers, Knight and Baer, is that group activities performed away from chairs encourage productivity and creativity.

Sit-down meetings were also compared to stand-up meetings in a University of Missouri research. This paper revealed that sit-down meetings took 34% longer for groups to finish tasks than its counterpart without any significant difference to the quality of group decision making.

Furthermore, daily-stand up meetings were perceived positively and were seen to help a lot in resolving issues and information sharing in a recent study on agile project teams from several countries including UK, Poland, Malaysia and Norway.

Healthcare professionals at a children’s hospital have also benefited from 10-minute morning huddles. A UC Davis study found out that communication among various hospital units, patient admissions, employee satisfaction and patient safety have improved after the implementation of daily huddles.

There is compelling evidence to back up standing group meetings to productivity, but being constantly on your feet has greater implications to individual health and well-being, emphasising the benefit of having a fast moving electronic conference table. Apple CEO, Tim Cook strongly believes that we ought to break that couch potato habit and move more in order to live longer.

Many published scientific researches revolve around this topic. Dr. James Levine at the Mayo Clinic investigated physical inactivity and sitting for long hours and the results also proved that such living conditions lead to health problems.

We are seeing more and more companies moving toward more flexible work environments and doing their share to encourage more activity based working by providing electronic sit stand desks. Try standing up as you type a report, and then observe the sensation and your overall output. If you are still feeling cynical, just look to Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Wolf and Winston Churchill for a bit of motivation.

Morning huddles can also be incorporated into any regular team catchup. You don’t have to do exactly as software developers do in Scrums. The trick is to tweak meeting styles and refine the process to suit your unique business needs. Pay attention to criticisms and feedback. When a staff complains about writing minutes and bad knee symptoms, perhaps it’s to time to switch to an adjustable conference desk and other tools to streamline the task. The important thing is sticking to daily standup components that include consistency, setting time limits, being on-point and tackling the three key questions head-on.

Just like any new project, successful morning huddles involve a sound strategy and planning. Don’t be calling meetings overnight and expect people to understand. It takes work and practice in order to glide through the process and find the rhythm, here are a few final tips highlighted by Rob Kelly in his ‘Getting Things Done’ series of blogs:

The basics:

  • Time of day: It should be done as early as possible, ideally first thing in the morning.
  • Length of meeting: 5 to 15 meetings depending on the size of your team.
  • Number of Attendees: Anything larger than 7 – 10 people should be split into more than one meeting, keep it tight.
  • Who attends: Everyone
  • Who runs it: Choose a team leader for different topics.
  • Where does it take place: While increased in technology allow us to do this of Skype or the phone, the idea of the Morning Huddle is to get everyone together, and here at Zen Space Desks we can’t recommend doing the Morning Huddle more than at your electronic height adjustable conference table

Bonus tips:

  • Give it a week. It may be tough for some people to adapt.
  • Start at odd times: Try scheduling it at a time other than on the hour, i.e. 7 minutes past 9am. Why? People will remember it more and probably show up a few minutes early.
  • It helps you with the rest of your day: A quick huddle, weekly or daily will help your team how to spend the rest of their day.

Find your way to a better day.

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