Mindfulness, Productivity and the Workplace

Should spaces for mindfulness be incorporated into the work place? Chaos and Rocket Fuel delves deeper into the latest craze sweeping NYC...


Mindfulness is a term that is receiving a lot of attention lately, but what does it really mean? While some might be sceptical of the actual benefits of introducing meditation and mindfulness classes in the workplace, the amount of interest in this practice, and the number of people invested in it, definitely makes some kind of investigation appropriate.

But how is mindfulness a beneficial practice when it comes to productivity? Here are just some of the ways in which awareness and being in the present moment has been shown to contribute to decreased stress and enhanced creativity in the workplace:

  1. Decreased Stress in the Workplace

In a study by Arizona State University, mindfulness was shown to reduce stress among university students. In particular, this study focused on mindfulness taught through online applications, which proved to be a more effective and convenient method as opposed to one-on-one teaching. In addition to the effects of relaxation and the ability to deal with stress and anxiety, mindfulness was shown to be beneficial for the way in which it helped students to manage thoughts and feelings before taking action.

This kind of approach is being put to effect with an increase in dedicated mindfulness spaces in New York, where stress is synonymous with the pace of life in the city. Mndfl is one of these spaces, where there are both guided sessions and even a private meditation room dedicated to individual practice.

 

 

  1. Increased Productivity

In a study by Leiden University, it was found that meditation enhanced creativity, by focusing on different meditation techniques to promote certain ways of thinking. In particular, a method of meditation called Open Monitoring led to better results in divergent thinking, in that participants weren’t required to focus on a particular sensation or concept, and subsequently came up with a number of different ideas when asked for them after the session.

By contrast, after taking part in a focused attention meditation, whereby participants were guided to focus on a particular thought or object, participants performed better when asked to come up with a specific solution to a problem afterwards. This shows that by being conscious of a range of experiences, or by focusing on a particular one, we can focus our minds on achieving particular goals, thereby reducing the anxiety often associated with making a decision.

In a workplace situation, an Open Monitoring type of meditation session done before a brainstorming session could lead to a more productive and stimulating exchange of ideas. For a more individually-orientated task, taking part in a focused attention technique could prove more useful before having to hone in on a specific activity, like writing a business proposal.

However, despite these two examples of research on the subject, parallel research suggests that mindfulness techniques can also have an adverse affect on people with existing psychiatric disorders. Regardless, the accessibility of meditation applications online shows that many people are using these kinds of techniques, which includes applications like Headspace, Omvana and a variety of other similar apps available on Google Play and the Apple App Store.

Companies need to be aware of the positive effects and potential negative ramifications before enforcing specific movements in this area; a psychological examination beforehand would seem to be an obvious must, along with hiring professionals to devise and input a system of mindfulness to be followed by the entire team when working across specific projects.

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