Whether you’re perusing the shelves at your local bookshop, flicking through a magazine or even scrolling on social media, one word is sure to keep popping up – mindfulness.

Just as the rise in fitness apps and activity trackers has shown our increased awareness of our physical health, the trend of mindfulness highlights our growing interest in wellbeing. And focusing on our health, both physical and mental, can be no bad thing.

What is mindfulness?

According to Huffington Post, mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and meditation. The key is to be present in the moment, and not judge a particular moment as good or bad.

While you might be sceptical, mindfulness is more than just the latest buzzword. It’s something that you can actively embrace in your company culture and office design to improve staff health and wellbeing for the long term.

Mindfulness is known to lower stress levels, improve the immune system and prevent emotional exhaustion, all of which can have a significant impact on employee health and productivity.

The office might be too noisy for meditation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work mindfulness into the workplace. Here are five ways in which the design of your office can help you practise a mindful way of life…

Clear desk, clear mind

Having a messy space really does lead to a messy mind. And, inevitably, a messy mind leads to higher levels of stress.

As Fresh Business Thinking notes, even being surrounded by piles of paper that aren’t in the ‘to do’ pile can make you feel the pressure.

To help ensure a clear, in-the-moment mind, take a couple of minutes to clear your desk space. Having suitable storage will help stop the clutter creeping back.

Break out, don’t burn out!

In an increasingly competitive work environment, more and more people are working longer hours, even working through breaks. Yet this is risking their health, and is actually counterproductive.

Research conducted earlier this year revealed that nearly a quarter (23%) of law firm respondents believe burnout and stress are increasing among fee-earning staff. And in this always-on world, it’s not hard to imagine that this is happening in offices nationwide.

By incorporating breakout areas into your office design, you’re showing your staff that you value the importance of taking breaks.

A place to digest

Mindfulness is all about being ‘consciously present’ in the moment. Whether that’s eating, washing your hands, talking to colleagues – be present in the moment and don’t let other things compete for your attention.
Encourage employees to get away from their workstations at lunchtime. Eat slower, savour the flavour of your food, banish all thoughts of work for those few minutes and you’ll return to your desk feeling refreshed and refocused.

Break out, don’t burn out!

In an increasingly competitive work environment, more and more people are working longer hours, even working through breaks. Yet this is risking their health, and is actually counterproductive.

Research conducted earlier this year revealed that nearly a quarter (23%) of law firm respondents believe burnout and stress are increasing among fee-earning staff. And in this always-on world, it’s not hard to imagine that this is happening in offices nationwide.

By incorporating breakout areas into your office design, you’re showing your staff that you value the importance of taking breaks.

A place to digest

Mindfulness is all about being ‘consciously present’ in the moment. Whether that’s eating, washing your hands, talking to colleagues – be present in the moment and don’t let other things compete for your attention.
Encourage employees to get away from their workstations at lunchtime. Eat slower, savour the flavour of your food, banish all thoughts of work for those few minutes and you’ll return to your desk feeling refreshed and refocused.

Walk, don’t run

Don’t rush to your next meeting with your head in your phone, bumping into colleagues as you go. Keep your head up, say hello to friends as you walk by, be aware of how your feet feel on the floor and arrive at your next appointment with a cooler, calmer sense of mind.

If your office has a more open-plan collaborative feel, it will be easier to acknowledge colleagues as you walk around during the day; perhaps colleagues you don’t usually interact with. Who knows what ideas might be borne out of a chance meeting?

Consider the senses

Being mindful is about being aware of our senses – sight, sound and smell. Keep these things front of mind when designing your office space. Is there enough natural light? What colours and tactile textures could you use for chairs and furnishings? Could incorporating more plants into the office improve the air quality?

Are there quiet areas where employees can block out hustle and bustle from busier parts of the office?

These are just some of the things to think about if you’re planning a mindful office space. Speak to the team at Kerr to find out more.

Sources:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/want-to-practice-mindfulness-start-at-work_us_578523c2e4b0e05f05238780
http://www.freshbusinessthinking.com/minimising-workplace-stress-with-office-design/
http://humanspaces.com/2015/09/30/mindful-offices/
https://www.employeebenefits.co.uk/issues/february-online-2016/23-of-law-firms-believe-workplace-stress-and-burnout-are-increasing/
http://www.mindful.org/10-ways-mindful-work/

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