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Why more workplaces should be incorporating mindfulness

Wake up, check your phone, shower, read emails over breakfast, Facebook on the commute to work, work, eat lunch (but ‘gram it first), work, check Instagram on the way home, shop online, dinner, scroll Facebook, watch Netflix, sleep, then do it all over again.

This probably looks like either your average day or that of someone you know. That’s nothing new. But what is scary is when you ask yourself the question: what would the average day look like 100 years ago? My guess is a lot less jam-packed than one today.

What did people do with all that down time? Weren’t they bored? Did they actually have to talk to their friends – in person? And spend more time with their families?

We live in a world where people don’t feel comfortable doing ‘nothing’ anymore. We have to feel ‘busy’, and do ‘busy’ work.

Even you. Right now. You might be wondering whether it’s time to hit the back button and keep scrolling, rather than thinking about how this might apply to your business.

Every bit of what was previously ‘down time’ has now been filled, usually with some form of technology, that keeps us ‘engaged’ from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep.

If we spend all day stumbling from distraction to distraction, trying to fill an insatiable desire to keep occupied, when do we have time to clear our thoughts, reflect on our day, engage in a spontaneous conversation with a stranger, or have meaningful discussions with our friends over the dinner table?

These are the things that move us and our businesses forward, and yet we avoid them. We avoid stopping to think about what we’re doing, and why.

It wasn’t until earlier this year, after hatch – the start up I founded – grew from two to six in a space of 6 months, that the importance of mindfulness fully dawned on me.

It was full-on, delivering on our commitments to clients when we started getting into a weekly pattern that felt like Groundhog Day.

High-performances employees hate these kinds of cycles. As business leaders we need to prioritise the sanity & happiness of our staff because happy staff are productive staff.

We needed to take a step back and have a mental reset so I organised a work retreat, called Hatch Week, and got us out of the hustle and bustle of Auckland. 

We spent a week (mostly) away from technology getting to know ourselves, each other, our team and reframe how we apply ourselves at work to achieve our shared vision. Looking back, this was invaluable in charting the path we are on now.

Getting to know one another’s interests outside of work brought us closer together as a team –  turns out Sam is an awesome barista.

From taking the time to be mindful, we’ve introduced initiatives that we’ve experimented with and eventually implemented. These include:

1. The morning grind

Open-plan offices are a hot topic. Research shows that they might not be as beneficial as initially thought. Far from collaboration enhancing, they’re more distraction-facilitating, productivity sinkholes.

Moving in the opposite direction, we block out a chunk of the day that is focussed on getting stuff done. We call this the ‘Morning Grind’ — a headphones-in, coffee infused, distraction free, four-hour block of time where everyone is focussed on getting as far as they can on the projects they are working on.

2. The 90-minute lunch

We’ve also added a 90-minute lunch in addition to our four-day work weeks which provide a great break in the middle of our slightly longer days.

During this break we head down to the Remuera Rackets Club for a hit on the tennis court or a gym session. Doing this has provided some great opportunities for team bonding, a healthier team and increased focus during the end of the day.

Another added benefit is that we’ve been able to invite our partners and clients down to join us — and they love it!

3. Reframing mindfulness

Mindfulness isn’t about doing yoga or meditating but being self-aware enough to take yourself out of a situation and look at it with fresh eyes.

It’s too easy to get caught up in a problem you are working on and keep pushing yourself towards a solution, only to get nowhere.

As a team we try to be mindful with our time. If someone is struggling with a problem, going for a walk outside of the office will often solve the problem faster than if had they stayed at their desks.

4. Weekly stand-up

The final mindfulness-driven activity we’ve implemented in our week is a weekly ‘Standup’. It’s not a new concept — rather something we’ve adopted from the Agile Software Development Methodology.

A Hatch Standup has the whole team sitting on bean bags at 5pm on a Friday with a beer or wine in hand ready to be vulnerable. We talk through our week — things that went well, things that didn’t, lessons learned and what we want to focus on for the week ahead.

A good standup allows each team member to see where everyone else is mentally and emotionally. This has been the most instrumental tool in embedding mindfulness in our culture, while building team empathy.

Whilst, traditionally, mindfulness practices might not have been the responsibility of the workplace, it’s quickly becoming a differentiating factor that makes one company more attractive than another.

What are you doing in your workplace that creates opportunities for your staff to take a step back? To clear their thoughts? To be mindful?

Try out any of the strategies we’ve suggested here and make them your own. If you need a hand, you can always join us for a game of tennis. You know where to find us.

About Hatch

At Hatch, we guide visionary business leaders to help make their businesses more efficient, more empowering and more human.

We consider it our most supreme responsibility to infuse good ideals back into the technology industry so we can get on with what’s really important: creating digital outcomes that actually empower humans.

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