Mindfulness in the open-plan office – what's in it for your business
Traditionally, organizations believed that open-plan offices foster communication and encourage employees to interact more. Surprisingly, a recent study published in Harvard Business Review has shown the opposite to be true. This often noisy and unfriendly environment triggers the feeling to retreat from people - opting for emails, and instant messaging instead of face to face dialogue.
Digital distraction has cost US organizations a trillion dollars per year; it's not something to be taken lightly. Unfortunately, there is no perfect formula for what organizations can do if they already have an open-plan arrangement. It's never going to be a one size fits all solution anyhow. There are certainly a few things you can do to encourage your employees to be more focussed and to achieve flow at work if you already have an open-plan space.
Give space to retreat
Consider giving your employees time to go into a private room, work from home, or different shared office space. You expect quality work, and that requires a focus that can only come from a place called "deep thinking." People often need to be alone to get to this state of mind. You can encourage employees by giving them the flexibility to try different working environments and scenarios. Encourage making site visits instead of being at their desks, for example. Not everyone learns the same way, and not everyone works the same way. Be open to ideas from your employees about how they can be most productive and deliver their best.
The magic happens at the senior level
Senior management needs to understand the benefits mindfulness has to offer the organization and the well-being of their employees. Once the top management in on-board, that's when the magic happens and filters down through the organization.
Mindfulness practice in the office
Any lasting change we wish to make in our lives requires implementing positive habits. Here are some simple ways you can try today to practice mindfulness in the office and be on your way to optimal productivity and personal well-being.
If you only have 10 minutes
Do a 10-minute mindfulness meditation either before you get to work or once you are already at work. Before you get out of your car and enter the building pause for 10 minutes. If you can find a room inside the building that allows you to be alone in quiet, use it. There are many different downloadable mindfulness meditations for free that you can use to guide you. Find a quiet place and get into a state of mind that will serve you throughout the day.
If you only have a minute
Perhaps you're about to head into a meeting, and you already feel your stress levels on the increase. We've all been there. Maybe you have to deliver an important presentation or proposal; you want to deliver the best you can. Take a minute at your desk or somewhere quiet, in the corridor, if you need to. Take in a deep breath and exhale. It's as simple as that. You don't even have to close your eyes. Continue to take ten very long, deep breaths in and out and clear your head. Now you're ready to focus on what needs your attention.
The multi-tasking days are gone
The data is now telling us it's easy to lose concentration and focus with all the digital distractions around us. Single-tasking is the new best way to be present in the moment to ensure you're getting through the task at hand.
Take your meetings with you
In the traditional working environment, you sit down in a stuffy meeting room with ten people, and you often spend 2-3 hours sitting down talking. Why not take a different approach and try walking meetings? Talk about some upcoming KPIs or that important presentation you need to put forward to your team while getting up and moving around. Instead of sitting down in a room, walk outside if you can, get some fresh air. Nowhere to walk outside? Walk from your desk to the Cafeteria and back. It sounds simple; it is simple but impactful.
Mindfulness techniques require a long-term investment; they are not merely a quick fix. What you pay attention to can change the structure of your mind. Even adults can alter the neuroplasticity of their brains. This is not something you have to start as a child; begin today and change the structure of your mind. In turn, become a more mindful, present human being.
How does this apply to sticky work situations?
Mindfulness practice is an excellent place to start. Prior to our Executive Coach taking you through the mindfulness practice, you'll learn about the science behind mindfulness, and what impact it can have on the brain.
The amygdala is the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions, and it's also responsible for the fight or flight (or knee jerk) reaction that you find yourself when you're in a stressful environment. In more ancient, primitive times, when a saber tooth tiger was chasing after us humans in the jungle, our response was to run. Now, when you find yourself in these knee jerk situations in the workplace, you can't just run; you have to face it.
Mindfulness practice has been proven to alter the amygdala to lessen the impact of this type of situation on you. Your brain can be trained to respond more proactively when you're in a stressful or challenging environment. A bit like when you go to the gym to train your shoulders or glutes, you can do the same with the brain, and that's the exciting thing with investing time and effort in yourself. It's like a muscle that you train every day. The more practice you put into mindfulness, the more impact it will have on your life.
Over time, with daily practice, it can alter the system part of your mind and have an enormous effect on how you face challenges and the different stressors in your life.
Imagine your employees with more joy and a winning attitude – that's what mindfulness can do for your organization.