Some of us might view our work and home lives as completely separate — where there’s a professional version of ourselves and a personal one. Others may have a different perspective, blurring the lines by talking openly about home and family and creating close friendships at work. Or perhaps some see themselves as somewhere in between. But regardless of how employees behave in each situation, their well-being is something that straddles both areas of life. Well-being is intrinsic to our everyday lives and how we function as humans, and it should be nurtured wherever we are — not just during work hours.
Being mindful at work certainly has its merits – helping teams become more attentive and compassionate while reducing stress in challenging or demanding situations and environments. But as more of us experience hybrid working models, the balance between home and work dynamics can easily shift.
Although lots of people enjoy the benefits of working from home for greater flexibility, it can also make it difficult to draw the line on when to log off and, as a result, lead to unhealthy habits of over-working. Work-related stress caused by this can escalate into feeling overwhelmed, which affects personal relationships as well as how we perform in our day-to-day roles.
So how can businesses implement mindfulness more holistically, with a view of life outside the office too? And how can they help employees unplug and recharge whenever they need it?
Implementing mindfulness into work routines is a great way to encourage new habits. Starting with small steps such as 1-minute meditations before business meetings and other short techniques — it could even be as simple as setting a moment of silence to encourage teams to clear their minds and train their awareness — will help employees see the value in mindfulness. While staff might feel self-conscious at first, they’ll begin to feel the benefits once they become more familiar with the practice — and this in turn might lead them to practice mindfulness in their personal lives too. That’s why giving teams access to a 24/7 mindfulness platform is important. Individuals can explore mindfulness on their own terms and reinforce the benefits with regular interaction — whether it’s starting their day with intention, pressing play on Focus music, or winding down at the end of the day with a sleepcast. As each person gradually finds a routine that works for them, and develops the tools to exercise mindfulness, they are more likely to apply it to their daily routines — helping it become a natural part of business culture, too.
Always-on access to mindfulness resources is essential to making well-being programs succeed. The quality of results relies on the quality of the mindfulness resources, which should be accessible, available and convenient. The resources should also be accessible from any device — including personal ones — to prevent mindfulness being restricted to office hours. When looking for ways to help employees de-stress and become more resilient, you should ask yourself whether the tools you offer meet the following criteria:
The more ‘yeses’, the better your chances of helping everyone embody a new, mindful approach. For example, Headspace, which is built on these principles, has been proven to lead to a 32% decrease in stress after 30 days and a 22% rise in focus after only one session. It goes to show the power of quality, especially when only 51% of employees rate their mental health benefits as “excellent” or “good.”
Tools that offer diverse types of support are vital to building a mindful culture. But having the means to connect with employees is another important step to achieving widespread well-being. Maintaining communication gives employers the ability to build trust and relieve any underlying tensions that may arise from hybrid working conditions, such as digital communication issues or workers feeling lonely and out of the loop.
Evidence shows that virtual teams face more challenges than face-to-face teams, but taking measures to improve communication can mitigate these effects. This can include setting up teamwork training sessions, identifying the right leaders to champion well-being, and being mindful about how feedback is shared. Organizations can also offer a forum for employees to share their experiences and thoughts, and interact with team members meaningfully — whether that’s within or outside of work hours.
While there are multiple pathways to effectively planning a mindful workplace, a robust strategy recognizes that employees will benefit greatly from tools that give them the freedom to practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere.
It’s also important to keep evaluating programs, including considering innovations in technology. For example, email traffic data can be used to identify individuals who are frequently working outside of company hours. These insights can help highlight the employees most at risk of burnout, so that the business can step in with the proper support. Used in tandem with comprehensive and 24/7 resources like Headspace, the company can keep growing support so teams can thrive.