What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is being aware of what is happening as it happens. It describes what happens when we pay attention to our thoughts, feelings and emotions without judging them. Jon Kabat Zinn provides this definition of mindfulness “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” So what does mindfulness at work look like and what are the benefits of a mindful workplace?

Mindfulness at Work

Do you find yourself;

  • Missing chunks of what a colleague has just said to you (whilst still nodding your head in agreement)
  • Drifting off into your own world during meetings
  • Stuck in patterns of negative thinking about work or colleagues
  • Often with no recollection of the commute to or from work
  • Caught up in a cycle of negative rumination about your workload, colleagues or projects
  • Believing that if you increase your hours and take fewer breaks it will make you more productive (research demonstrates it won’t)
  • Ignoring symptoms of stress e.g. feeling tetchy, reduced focus, losing enthusiasm, ploughing through to get things finished and neglecting yourself.
  • Resorting to auto pilot to get through the day

Mindfulness at work is being aware of those moments. Noticing. Recognising what we are feeling as we’re feeling it. Being present to our working practices.

Workplace mindfulness offers a way to manage the frenetic pace and navigate the constant change in the corporate world. With increasing demands being placed on ever stretched employees, mindful workplace programmes aim to reduce stress, build resilience and build creativity.

The Business Case for Mindfulness at Work

Ever wondered if we are all more stressed than we used to be or are we simply imagining it? It’s true. We are more stressed in the workplace than we were forty years ago. The UK Office for National Statistics Labour Force study reveals that 442000 employees in the UK reported feeling work-related stress at a level that was making them physically ill (HSE 2016/17).

When you consider long distance commuting, organisational change, increasing demands, challenging colleagues, heavy workloads and being constantly connected it comes as no surprise.

It’s not just stress that presents a problem. The way that we work is changing, affecting organisational culture and working practices. Edward Hallowell, MD describes this new new culture of being pulled in a multitude of different directions as ‘Attention Deficit Trait‘ (ADT). Think of ADT as the enemy of flow. Recent research from the University of California found that we’re distracted on average every three minutes at work. The Wall Street Journal reports that we check our emails on average an astounding 249 times daily. Little wonder our resilience is taking a bashing and we’re feeling stressed out at work.

Alongside the cost to individual wellbeing and work life balance, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development estimates that UK businesses lose a whopping £1800 per employee every year as a result of stress related absenteeism. That’s a pretty hefty price tag both personally and professionally. What if there was another way? Enter the  benefits of mindfulness in business.

ROI and Mindfulness at Work

The corporate world is embracing mindfulness as a strategy to reduce stress and enhance performance. We’ve delivered mindfulness at work training in the UK and internationally. Organisations like Google, Spotify, Aetna, the NHS, Transport for London, UK Parliament and US Congress are all recognising the benefits of mindfulness at work programmes.   Mindfulness workplace research is building a body of evidence to support the provision of workplace mindfulness as a mainstream practice.

The Benefits of Mindfulness at Work

Increasingly mindfulness at work benefits are being empiricaly evidenced to result in improved outcomes for employees and organisations. Corporate mindfulness benefits are;

  • Lower stress
  • Greater resilience
  • Increase wellbeing
  • Reduced reactivity
  • Improved memory recall
  • Reduced cognitive bias
  • Greater self awareness
  • Improved employee engagement
  • Team cohesion
  • Greater emotional intelligence
  • Improved performance
  • Improved focus
  • Enhance productivity
  • Boost creativity and innovation
  • Reduced absenteeism

Mindfulness at Work You Tube

Mirabai Bush, Mindfulness at work advisor to Google on Mindfulness at Work

Dan Harris, 10% Happier, on mindfulness applications at work

Regina Chow, Using mindfulness to deal with everyday pressures

5 Tips for Practicing Mindfulness at Work

Wondering how to practice mindful working? At work meditation techniques don’t need to be complicated. Here are some simple tips to practice mindfulness in the office. These short, informal mindfulness practices will help you to create the for daily mindfulness at work.

  • Create regular mindfulness breaks. Set a timer, either using an app or an alarm to remind you to create a mindful break. Try using post it notes or alerts as prompts to pause periodically during the day with no agenda. Use this time to disrupt your habitual patterns, moving out of doing mode to being mode.
  • Mindful Listening. When you’re communicating with a colleague be fully present. Direct your attention to how it feels to listen. Notice the non verbal behaviour of the person that you are speaking to, their posture, gestures. Really focus on the tone of their voice. What are they really saying? Notice how it feels to listen (and be listened to) this way.
  • Self Inquiry Meditation. Create space in your day to check in with how you are feeling. Make yourself comfortable. Notice how you are feeling, what’s happening in your body and mind? What do you notice? How is your day? Bring awareness to the present moment. Continue your day with renewed intention.
  • Mindful Minute. This is a great practice to step outside of automatic pilot. Bring your focus to your breathing. Notice the sensations as you breathe in and as you exhale, the rise and fall of your chest, the sensation of cool air around your nostrils as you inhale. If you find that your mind wanders in this 60 seconds, it’s ok. Notice the distraction without judgement and bring your focus back to your breath. The you’re ready finish the practice.
  • 5 Mindful Senses Practice. This is a super quick practice to bring your awareness to the present moment and develop focus in less than 60 seconds. Notice 5 things that you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste.

Want to Know More About Mindfulness at Work Research?

Ask us about ‘Bullet Proof 9 to 5ers our research into the impact of an 8 week mindfulness at work programme on resilience, emotional intelligence and compassion.

Incorporating Mindfulness at Work

If you’re wondering how to introduce mindfulness at work, we’ve got you covered. Take a look at our free resources and how to incorporate mindfulness at work PDF

For more at work meditation techniques, psychology tools or to find out more about our mindfulness at work programmes get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. We work internationally delivering mindfulness at work programmes, our clients include UK Sport, Spotify, the V&A, Natural History Museum, Insure the Box and the Bonington Leadership Programme amongst others. We offer bitesize, one day, two day and 6 week mindfulness at work training programmes. Contact us for more information or visit our mindful leadership page to discover more.