Mindfulness or Mind fulness?

Are you out of your mind?

You’ve lost track of how many e-mails are in your inbox, the report deadline is looming, you still need to deal with the snappy team member from the morning meeting and your next conference call starts in 5 minutes.  Your mind starts spinning and you start feeling frazzled.  Sound familiar?

As the tension starts to build, our minds get busy trying to deal with all of the information.  For many people, stress is experienced more in the mind than in the body.  However, as our minds pick up the pace and thoughts start to whiz around, our productivity and efficiency start to drop.  It’s hard to be innovative and creative when our minds are all over the place.  No wonder the business world is abuzz with mindfulness.

WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Jon Kabat-Zinn, a famous teacher of mindfulness meditation and founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programme, says:  “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Using mindfulness in the workplace is beneficial for both businesses and their employees.  People who practise mindfulness at work report clearer communication, improved teamwork and team relations.  Other reported benefits include:

  • Improved decision making,
  • A better ability to “think out of the box”, enhanced creativity, and
  • Reduced workplace tensions and improved customer service.

Mindfulness can take a long time to learn and a lot of intensive practise before getting results.  However, there is a quick and easy way to bring our awareness to the present moment and stop being caught up in our thoughts.  Focus on your senses and your sensory experience.  Notice your environment – what can you see, hear, smell, taste and touch.  I like to call this ‘sensory mindfulness’.  It offers a simple, practical technique to get you on your way to being more mindful.

SENSORY MINDFULNESS
Use the following technique as a quick and easy way to get out of your mind and be present in the moment.

  • Pause and take a few slow breathes
  • Look around you – what can see?  Notice the small details
  • Close your eyes – what can you smell?
  • Listen carefully – what can you hear?
  • What can you feel – can you feel 5 or more things against the surface of your body?

Take a little time each day to tune into your senses and get out of your mind.

By Tania Barney, a registered Occupational Therapist with the Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC), UK. Professional qualifications:  B App Sc (OT), M App Sc (Health Sciences), University of South Australia.

Navigating hybrid working using the power of sensory intelligence®

The new world of work is hybrid and flexible 
The post-COVID-19 resulted in unprecedented changes to the way we work. As organizations worldwide adapted to the challenges posed by the global health crisis, hybrid working emerged as the new norm, fostering an increased sense of flexible working and work-life balance. This article explains how we at Sensory Intelligence® can assist in getting hybrid working right. Business leaders play a vital role in understanding and leveraging Sensory Intelligence® to create productive and inclusive work environments that cater to the diverse needs of their employees, not only as productivity but also as a staff retention solution.

Understanding Sensory Intelligence®
Sensory Intelligence® refers to how people use and process their daily work environment through the 7 senses. We are surrounded by an onslaught of incoming stimuli providing the baseline data our brains need to process daily. Each person has a unique genetic code and sensory wiring, which influences their sensitivity to environmental factors. These daily sensory processing patterns affect attention, emotion, and behaviour, all forming the baseline for workplace productivity and efficiency.

What we observed during and following the COVID-19 pandemic 
The pandemic provided an opportunity to observe the impact of Sensory Intelligence® on remote work. Research conducted during the pandemic revealed that about 30% of people with high sensory thresholds are relatively oblivious to sensory stimuli, not getting overstimulated quickly. Another 30% of individuals with low thresholds, however, are more sensitive to environmental stimuli,  get overstimulated and overloaded quickly and more frequently. The latter group experienced increased productivity, comfort, and happiness while working from home, as they could control their environment and eliminate distractions. This group also reported less stress, less burnout, more energy and better use of their time. On the other hand, the former group group struggled with isolation, feeling lonely and deprived of social interaction. Their ideal work environment, such as the bustling office space, is filled with activity, variety, and collaboration.

The Need for Hybrid Working
The pandemic highlighted that what works for one individual may not be suitable for another – a “one size fits all approach” is outdated. Employees with low sensory thresholds thrive in home working environments. On the other end, employees with high sensory thresholds thrive in the busy office.  There are advantages and challenges to both. The solution lies in adopting a hybrid approach that combines the best aspects of traditional office-based work with the flexibility of remote work. For the 40% of individuals who can adapt to various work environments, accommodating their preferences for optimal productivity is relatively straightforward as they can work anywhere.

The Benefits of Hybrid Working
Hybrid working offers several advantages. First, it acknowledges that humans have different needs and preferences, enabling organisations to create tailored work environments that enhance productivity and employee satisfaction. By implementing a hybrid model, organizations can become employers of choice, attracting and retaining top talent. Additionally, the adoption of hybrid working can lead to cost savings through reduced office space requirements.

Guidelines for Successful Hybrid Working
To make hybrid working successful, business leaders and managers should consider the following guidelines:

  • Embrace Individualality: Assess employees to determine their best-fit work environment, whether it is remote, in-office, or a combination. Accommodating individual preferences not only boosts productivity but also promotes employee happiness and retention.  Especially the younger generation wants flexibility and choices.
  • Implement a Scheduling System: Establish a scheduling system that ensures fair access to office space while maximizing efficiency. This may involve additional administrative efforts but can result in cost savings through rental office space.
  • Encourage Face-to-Face Engagement: Face-to-face engagement is essential for boosting morale, ensuring healthy communication and promoting teamwork. Those in leadership positions should recognize that sensory avoiders may require less contact, while sensory seekers may benefit from more interaction.  Human connections and social isolation are the risk factors associated with remote working, so it must be top of mind for leaders and team managers.
  • Support Remote Workers: While remote work is encouraged, leaders must acknowledge that not everyone has an ideal home working space. Provide guidance and support for employees in setting up effective home workspaces. If necessary, consider flexible working options and create focused and quiet spaces within shared office workspaces.
  • Focus and manage on Output, Not Hours: Shift the focus from monitoring hours worked to measuring output and productivity. Implement systems that track and document the results employees produce, regardless of where or when they work.

Key Takeaways
Work environments matter and are a key driver for employee productivity and well-being. By embracing individual differences, implementing effective scheduling systems, fostering face-to-face engagement, supporting remote workers, and focusing on output rather than hours worked, leaders and managers can navigate the challenges of hybrid working successfully.  Some leaders seem to want to revert to bringing everyone back to the office which is a pity. The pandemic taught us that the new workspace is hybrid and flexible and should be embraced by progressive leaders.
Leaders can create work environments that foster the diverse needs of employees, utilise individual differences and be prepared to cater for these varying needs of employees. Doing this will not only maximize employee productivity and promote employee well-being but also increase employee loyalty. Hybrid working offers the flexibility to accommodate different sensory styles, allowing employees to thrive in their preferred work settings.
It is crucial to champion the benefits of hybrid working and advocate for its adoption within organizations. By harnessing the power of Sensory Intelligence®, organizations can retain top talent, boost productivity, and create a positive work culture.

The future belongs to organisations that prioritize individuality, leverage Sensory Intelligence®, and embrace the benefits of hybrid working.

To discover how Sensory Intelligence® can transform your hybrid working strategy so that your employees are set up to succeed contact us, at [email protected]

Watch this to learn more about how Sensory Intelligence® tackles the idea of hybrid working.

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