In its simplest sense, mindfulness means balancing the intense pace of life with being fully present in the moment, which many can agree is easier said than done – especially in the office. Employees in North America, for instance, lose 86 minutes per day due to a variety of interruptions in the workplace, and according to a recent study from Steelcase, only 58 percent of workers reported being able to work in teams without being disturbed.
Life is full of distractions, but workers nowadays are still expected to be “always on,” an ironic metaphor given the proliferation of technology in recent years.
Mental fatigue occurs when we’re often at our busiest, and so at Steelcase we’re asking ourselves, how do we design workplaces that offer workers opportunity for moments of rest, rejuvenation or deep focus free from distractions.
My team has recently completed a comprehensive study on wellbeing at work, and found mindfulness to be one of six dimensions of wellbeing that the workplace can help improve.
As part of our study, researchers identified and developed design concepts that companies can incorporate into their workplace to help encourage mindfulness by enhancing employees’ ability to concentrate and make thoughtful choices amid distractions and disturbances:
- Offer spaces where people can seek solitude and respite, or connect with others without distractions or interference.
- Design areas that allow workers to control the amount of sensory stimulation they are exposed to and enable them to amp it up or ratchet it down.
- Create spaces that help people stay focused as they interact with others one-on-one and eye-to-eye.
- Offer places that are restorative and calming, which can be achieved through materials, textures, colors, lighting and views.
Take a look around your own office – how many of these principles ring true of the design and environment in your workspace? This issue isn’t distinct to employees alone. It is a bottom-line issue that can potentially affect the entire organization.
Thirty-six percent of a person’s time is spent working. By creating spaces that help people reconnect with what makes their work fulfilling, employers can help ensure that 100% of that worker’s time is helping to build a better work product and a stronger bottom line.
Read more about the other elements impacting wellbeing at work.
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