Sometimes I worry that I get a little too woo-woo in workshops. There I was, in your basic, beige manufacturing company training room. Talking to extremely practical, down-to-earth people about Presence. Sensing their feet and drawing energy up from the earth. Using that energy to connect to clients and colleagues, who will bask in light of their attention.
Are you rolling your eyes?
Turns out I have plenty of mainstream company in promoting Presence in professional settings.
From the Chicago Tribune’s Business Section: “Slowing down and being truly present at work can increase productivity — no chanting required.”
It’s all about mindfulness, and no, it doesn’t involve a meditation cushion or a yoga mat. It’s more about directing attention and reducing distractions so employees stay present and in the moment. The result? A happier and more efficient office.
The author acknowledges some professionals might be suspicious of the whole mindfulness idea. But get this. Research at the University of British Columbia’s business school found that after their mindfulness training, employees were less stressed and more productive. And their work environment improved because they were nicer to each other.
Of course it’s tough to be mindful when you’re swamped, pressured, and rushing from one task to another all day long. Smart companies make sure their employees have time to reset to the present.
And no, this isn’t just for airy-fairy, New-Age-type businesses. The very pragmatic Deloitte is building breaks into the work day so its auditors, accountants and consultants can practice mindfulness. (Yes, I’m trying to imagine my accountant saying, “Ommmmmm.”)
It’s surprising, isn’t it? And who would have guessed that Deloitte actually has a Managing Director of Well-being? She’s out to discourage back-to-back meetings so people have a little bit of breathing room before the next one. And she promotes Presence in the office.
A lot of us, when we think of mindfulness, we think of meditation. Turns out there are companies that encourage actual meditation in the office.
The Trib article cites a health benefits company, League, where they suggest turning an unused room into a quiet place so employees have a dedicated space for their mental well-being.
There are surely plenty of unused rooms in many offices these days. The idea is to set one up so it reflects something about your organization, with appropriate photos, for instance. That way employees have something to focus on while they take a quiet moment or two for contemplation.
And the president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR firm, says her employees all work remotely. So rather than establishing a place for meditation, they set a time. Two 15-minute blocks a day, dedicated to being present.
Those are times to take a break, refocus and meditate. Or exercise. Or take a quick walk, just to get outside for a few minutes. Everyone decides what will work best for them as a way to take a time-out from work and refocus.
The idea is to come back to your desk with more awareness and sharper concentration. Plus, the mindfulness break should reduce that after-lunch lull that can really slow a person down.
Are you pondering how mindfulness might influence your work?
When I’m in my office, I can get sucked right into the computer screen or the phone. I need those moments of intentionally sensing my feet on the floor, my seat in the chair, my breathing. Those are the things that bring me back to the here and now.
And of course when I’m in front of an audience, it’s all about being present. I tell my clients there’s a reason they call it a presentation. Because you can’t do it well if you’re not present.
You’ve probably heard speakers who sounded like they were going through the motions, reciting something they’ve said a thousand times, disconnected from the people in the room? That’s the sound of a speaker who’s not really present.
So now, how about you? If you’re inspired to bring mindfulness into your workday, post a comment below and tell us how. And, if you’re already practicing Presence at work, what’s your secret?