How can businesses embrace mindfulness in the new year?
January is typically the time to reassess and reset for the upcoming year, and after the turbulent year we’ve experienced, January 2021 should be a welcome new start.
But with Christmas cancelled for many, and ongoing instability in the market from COVID and Brexit, many business leaders, managers and executives will still have to work to strict deadlines, and find themselves more exhausted and less productive than ever before in their working lives.
January is also the time where we take up new habits and promise ourselves that this year will be different (albeit often unsuccessfully). However, if there’s one habit that people get into in the new year, it should be mindfulness – a technique that can help workers get ahead using a simple change in mindset. The practice has been proven to support increased resilience and even enjoyment of work, whilst fostering creativity and better collaboration.
Laurence Shorter, a member of The Future Strategy Club and author of The Lazy Guru’s Guide to Life: The Mindful Art of Achieving More by Doing Less, has given his views on the importance of mindfulness in the workplace in the new year.
“The pandemic has changed the way we work in many ways, with workers moving from busy offices in city centres and setting up office in their bedroom. Work-life balance has shifted, and there’s a recognition that health, sanity and the mental health of employees needs to be taken care of as a business case, which wasn’t explicitly clear before.
“Corporate budgets are being spent on this, with firms providing access to wellbeing and mental health tools, with yoga and meditation apps becoming increasingly common. Mindfulness is one of the practices that has seen a huge uptake since the pandemic began.
“One angle on mindfulness I’ve focused a lot this year is encouraging clients to ‘do nothing’ (literally): set a timer for 10-20 mins, turn everything off and simply stop doing. Practicing the discipline of letting go of the achievement mindset, even temporarily, can make a huge difference to our resilience, our creativity and our experience of work. Although it may seem counterintuitive, it allows your brain to ease off its normal circuit of stress-driven activity, which actually makes things happen easier and faster. We spend our lives telling ourselves that as soon as we complete a certain task, as soon as we’ve finished that project or floated that billion-dollar business, then we will be relaxed – but inevitably, we never are because we then move onto the next project. Everyone needs support to create that space for reflection, to think more strategically – as it is so countercultural – instead of just rushing to complete the next task. Which is where coaching and group training comes in.
“Especially now, when there is so much uncertainty about what may happen in firms which are perhaps worried about going out of business, companies will require honest communication and innovation to survive. We’re moving into an age of communication and creativity, and mindfulness is helping.”