In the time it takes to read this post, something will interrupt you. You will then have to decide whether this interruption is worth your attention. Once you choose to either ignore the notification and resume reading, or to switch tasks to address the interruption, you will have an average of three minutes and five seconds before the next interruption shows up. This constant vying for your focus can cost as much as 40 percent of your productive time, and make it much harder to do your best work when you aren’t being interrupted.
If you want to deepen employee engagement, you need to deliver a work environment that actively encourages creative work and guards against distraction. Put simply, you should encourage mindfulness. By adopting technology and workplace best practices to promote mindfulness, you can encourage employee engagement, boost work productivity, and create a stronger employee experience.
Years of data confirm the benefits of remote work: PGi reports that 82 percent of employees experienced reduced stress levels, 80 percent had better morale, and 70 percent saw better productivity thanks to telecommuting. This is not an argument that you close down your brick-and-mortar office—but it also should not be the only place employees can choose to work. 68 percent of respondents in a recent Quartz survey said it’s “very important” their workplace technology allows them to work from anywhere.
To inspire employee engagement, give them technology that lets them choose their work environment. Ensure employees can access all essential business applications and data from any location and from any device. By allowing more work flexibility in where and how employees do their jobs, you can boost work productivity and reduce distractions that harm their wellbeing.
According to a recent Quartz survey, 67 percent of respondents believe being “always on” has a negative impact on their health—and mind swamped with notifications cannot work creatively. To encourage daily mindfulness at work, you need to encourage employees to unplug. Even an act as simple as turning off your phone for an hour can make a big difference— a 2017 University of Texas study found even keeping your phone on your desk reduced cognitive capacity at work by 14 percent.
It’s also helpful to make room for daily mindfulness on employee calendars. This doesn’t mean you have to book your sales team on a week-long meditation retreat. Instead, start small by scheduling designated hours when no meetings can take place and employees are encouraged to go offline. Work will still happen during these times, but rather than distracted busy work your employees can think strategically and creatively about what really matters for your organization’s success.
Remember how the average office worker is interrupted every three minutes? If the interruption requires that worker to switch apps, the time taken by interruption gets worse—and the average business professional uses more than nine different apps at work. This suggests the technology at your workplace has a significant role to play in any effort to encourage mindfulness.
It’s important to calibrate workplace technology to encourage focus, not distraction. Look for ways to unify all essential business apps in one interface so employees don’t have to switch applications to get things done. You can also experiment with automation for resolving routine tasks to minimize distractions for your staff. Even the simple act of switching employee phones to grayscale and turning off push notifications can help everyone be more mindful at work.
Nurturing mindfulness in your organization has powerful potential to help your employees be healthier, happier, and more creative at work. However, this mindful state will not happen on its own—it’s important for you to support mindfulness for your employees by adopting the right workplace and technology strategy.
As an example of how a large technology organization used mindfulness to support employee engagement, read this blog post.
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