Mindfulness in the workplace isn’t anything new.
In fact, companies like Apple, Google, and Nike are big proponents of it. The leaders of these Fortune 500 companies know the cost of burned out employees who have been “multitasking” for too long.
But, multitasking is a myth. Being mindful and focusing on one task at a time, it turns out, is way more productive.
With the current pandemic, working from home situations may start to feel like 24/7 work situations; lay-offs mean employees are taking on more work than normal to keep businesses afloat. And, with workers tethered to their phones, it's hard to shut off busy brains.
Focusing on being mindful and intentional can create space and time to respond instead of reacting throughout the workday.
This post will highlight simple yet effective ways to help team members be more mindful. Below, you’ll find ways to encourage workers to set daily intentions, set aside “playtime” sessions, and practice in-the-moment connections.
If you want to see your employees and your management team benefit from mindfulness, below are a few activities and ideas to introduce the idea in your workplace.
What is Mindfulness?
Laurie. J. Cameron writes in her book The Mindful Day: “Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when we deliberately direct our attention toward our inner experience, toward others, and toward the environment around us. But more than just focusing your mind, it’s about your mindset — how you view the world.”
Useful Ways to Create Mindfulness in the Workplace
Most people find a regular meditation practice is the best way to harness busy thoughts and learn how to direct attention purposefully.
When a person focuses on being more mindful, they can work on a single task at one time and give it their full attention. Whether that’s driving, eating, exercising, or tackling a work project. Best of all, mindfulness is an action that empowers individuals to handle their day with more intention.
But it doesn’t all have to be about meditation and waiting for a bell to signal the end of a quiet time session. In fact, every day there are opportunities for your employees to practice mindfulness in the workplace.
Ready to help your employees get a bit more mindful? Here are some ideas:
1. Offer Intention-Setting Time
At the start of each workday, ask that employees sit down and focus on their daily intentions and goals. Research shows that individuals who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them.
One Forbes article titled “Neuroscience Explains Why You Need To Write Down Your Goals If You Actually Want To Achieve Them” reported, “people who very vividly describe or picture their goals are anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals.”
Goals can include:
- Work goals
- Wellness goals
- Workout goals
- Professional goals
As it turns out, the brain encodes the fact that humans have certain goals and “notes” when they have been written down. Writing goals down helps the goal writer remember them better. Even if the goals are the same, it can be helpful to do a daily review of them as well.
2. Connect Over Coffee Chats
Not only is coffee good for health reasons, but it’s good to connect over coffee, too. Since the start of the pandemic, people have reported feeling isolation and spikes in anxiety and depression. Social connection is an essential part of well-being, especially for your employees who may be working remotely instead of together in the office.
Help your team avoid the risk of isolation by inviting them to weekly coffee chats. Ask that everyone leave their cell phones outside the room (whether the meeting is remote or in-person), to help your employees be together in the moment with no worries about work.
3. Have a “No Cell” Policy During Meetings
We’ve all seen the movie theater ad about no cell phone usage during the movie. That’s because it’s distracting to not only you but others around you. When that screen lights up or the phone vibrates, it takes your attention away from the current moment.
Busy managers and leaders who want to have an authentic “open-door policy” can put this into practice. Have a secretary or assistant hold all calls that ring into your office until after one-on-one meetings — unless it’s an emergency. Keep your cell phone out of sight during all meetings, when possible. Ask your employees to do the same during team meetings.
Take it one step further and challenge your employees to keep their phones out of the dining room during meal times, especially if they’re dining with someone. Research shows that keeping a cell phone nearby during dining experiences reduces the enjoyment of the meal — whether that’s at home or in a restaurant. Keeping a phone out of sight can encourage better in-the-moment experiences, researchers say.
4. Start the Day on a Positive Note
There are numerous ways you can get your team pumped and ready for the day. Sure, it’s easier to let everyone come in and settle down and not so much as even connect for a few minutes with one another. But in times like these, everyone needs positive human connection.A few ways to start off positively:
- Email out a positive quote of the day
- Start a daily meeting with a positive story
- Share kudos and team shout-outs
- Exchange thoughts on gratitude
By starting off with connecting on a positive note, it sets the intention for the day. It’s also a practice that management must take the lead on. In doing so, it offers a chance to slow down and provide genuine moments of optimism and positivity.
5. Connect for a Weekly Gratitude Time
There is tons of research out there about why personal gratitude practices are helpful, including how it can help people make friends and connect socially. Take some time each week to ask your employees what they’re grateful for. You can keep it simple and start off each staff meeting with everyone mentioning what they’re thankful for this week. Other options include having a gratitude Slack channel where team members can drop their moments of gratitude throughout the week to share with everyone.
Being grateful is a good thing. Here’s why:
- It enhances empathy
- It improves physical health
- It boosts psychological health
- It improves self-esteem
The benefits of gratitude have been studied often and cited frequently. While Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reflect on all one is grateful for, a daily or weekly practice is even better.
Want to improve your team’s gratitude toward each other and life? Check out our free downloadable toolkit: Your Guide to Cultivating Gratitude in the Workplace.
6. Host a Group Meditation Time
Consider offering a group meditation practice in your workplace. This can easily be done in a large room where individuals can spread out or even be done during a video conference call. A team manager can offer to lead a guided meditation, or you can hire a local meditation instructor to take charge of the session.
Meditation comes in a variety of forms:
- Sitting meditation - This is a meditation that can easily be done at a desk with feet flat on the floor, back straight, and hands in the lap. Deep breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth is the only action that needs to be done.
- Walking meditation - Just like it sounds, this is a great option for those who don’t feel comfortable sitting still for long periods of time in silence. It helps individuals to be mindful about each and every movement made along a walk.
- Body scan meditation - This is an excellent way to relieve bodily tension individuals may not even know they’ve been holding onto. The practice essentially has a person “scan” their body from head to toe while noticing sensations.
- Loving-kindness meditation - This practice focuses on the idea of sending kindness vibes to ourselves, others, and the world.
Those are just a few of the meditation practice options, too. These practices can help especially during stressful work times to allow workers to take pause and reduce tension. Practice won’t make meditation perfect, but it will make it easier with each session your team does together.
7. Share a List of Mindful Reminder Apps
It’s easy to “get into the zone” when working intently. The best work can usually be done for 75 to 90 minutes before a break is necessary for a refresher. If we stay at a task too long, the brain can get tired and start introducing errors. To avoid this, have your employees be mindful and intentional about their breaks.
Some timer apps they may like:
- Break App
- Take a Break
- Take a Coffee
- Take a Break, Please
There are tons of apps that can help employees remember to take a break when they get a little too focused and haven’t moved in a few hours. By taking breaks, they’ll get some stress relief and can come back refreshed and ready to tackle their workload with vigor.
8. Break Bread Together
If your team is known to skip lunch, or worse, eat lunch while simultaneously working, they’re missing out on a perfect opportunity to be mindful. Eating mindfully is one of those opportunities that is not only good for the physical body but also mentally. If attention is focused fully on the meal, it can be a more relaxed experience and allows for an individual to notice when to stop because they’re feeling full and not distracted.
Consider having team lunches together at least once a week. If your team works remotely, ask them to fully log off the computer for their lunch hour and dine with a friend or family member, if possible. Doing so gives them a chance to hit refresh and enjoy the meal they’ve prepared for nourishment.
9. Provide a Quiet Space
Sometimes quiet time is all one needs to reset their stress level and be present. If your workplace has the space, consider creating a quiet room for employees. This room should be a calm area where employees can go to meditate, pray, nap, or just be alone for a few moments.
Enhance a quiet room space with:
- Yoga mats
- Calming music
- Essential oil diffusers
- Comfortable chairs or recliners
Add a sign on the door that indicates the space is occupied by those who need some quiet time. Even if your company can’t splurge on a nap pod or massage chairs, leadership can still create a calming space that allows your team members to reset and be intentional about it.
10. Offer Stability Balls
Whether your team is working remotely or in-office, there’s a good chance they spend a lot of the day sitting. Help them be more mindful of how long they sit as sitting too long each day can cause chronic health issues. Do this by providing an option for an office chair and a stability ball for those workers on computers.
A stability ball can align the spine, encourage movement (transitioning from a chair to ball), and potentially improves core strength if used correctly. It may also encourage employees to take beneficial stretching breaks. A stability ball can be incorporated as part of a mini-workout done right at their desks, too.
Check out our post on 8 Office Exercises You Can Do Discreetly at Your Desk!
11. Goodbye, Email
When your team is done for the day, let them say goodbye to their work. That means email, too. Encourage employees to mindfully shut down work email notifications at the end of the day. Unless they have pressing deadlines, ask that they wait to return any email responses the following day that come in after hours. Doing so allows them to feel refreshed and ready to work hard the next day.
Studies show employees perform better when they can break away from work. Learn more by reading our post “Why You Don’t Want to Let Employees’ Work Rollover into the Weekend.”
12. Hold That Thought
Email can be an amazing tool for connecting and collaboration, especially for remote workers. But sometimes, the tone doesn't always come through correctly over email. Ask your team members to “hold that thought” when they get an email that irritates them.
Let them know it's okay to hit pause on dashing off responses to emails right away. If a response can wait, have them reflect on it. They may need as little as 15 minutes or maybe a whole day. Once they’ve had time to think about it, ask that they send a neutral response. When they take the time to pause, it can cool tempers and lessen the chance of further miscommunications due to frustration.
13. Encourage Creative Play
Allow your team to set aside time for artistic endeavors and “playtime” that may not necessarily equal “work time.” This can be in the form of team-building exercises or even offering half-days for creative pursuits like a pottery class or a refurbishing furniture class.
Creative play ideas for in the office:
- Provide supplies for a fun DIY gratitude jar project
- Give away Playdough. Host friendly sculpture “competitions”
- Hold a self-portrait drawing contest using crayons
- Paint or decorate river rocks with inspirational sayings
- Host a Friday dance party to The Office theme song
Create a Slack channel for your employees to share their creative “playtime” moments. It starts a conversation about passions and interests, allowing teammates to get to know one another better. Creativity gives life a little more zest and also opens up new ways of thinking, which can in turn bring about more unique ideas into the workplace.
Mindfulness in the Workplace is Easy to Try
As you can see from the list above, there are plenty of ways to practice mindfulness in the workplace.
Best of all, most of the aforementioned ideas can be done remotely or in-office.
The biggest key to mindfulness training is to pay attention to the present. By focusing on a single activity in a given moment, it trains the brain to slow down and be mindful. It may not always come easily or naturally to be mindful — especially during busy times — but it’s essential to practice to minimize stress, illness, and even burnout.
Give one or all of these ideas a try. Let us know what you think. We’d love for you to tag us on social media with pictures of your employees in action trying these!
Learn even more about how your company can explore the benefits of mindfulness. Download our free guide Tap the Power of Mindfulness to discover all the health benefits of mindfulness.