Long associated with meditation and relaxation, the practice of mindfulness has become more mainstream in recent years. And, with studies showing that humans aren’t as good at multi-tasking as we think we are, practicing mindfulness or meditation may actually help us be more productive at work.
Ever felt scattered while having 12 browser tabs open on your laptop, while keeping up with a group text on your smartphone and answering emails as they come in? In an age of multi-tasking, mindfulness can help us be in a state of moment-to-moment awareness of our experience. So, can practicing mindfulness help your small business become more productive?
Here are five potential benefits:
1. Mindfulness may help you and your team prioritize better. Multi-tasking is really task-switching, because it’s not possible for the brain to handle two tasks simultaneously. A research study at Stanford University found that multi-tasking actually made participants less able to switch tasks effectively, likely because they were less able to filter out irrelevant distractions.1 Since not every task has the same level of importance to your small business, being able to discern what’s most important can be a critically important skill.
2. Mindfulness can help boost your working memory. Research has shown an increase in working memory among participants in an eight-week mindfulness training.2 That working memory can translate to productivity if employees are able to better recall training and other information useful for their work – and may even help them avoid accidents and injuries at work if they are better able to remember safety practices.
3. Mindfulness can help reduce stress. According to an American Psychological Association survey, 60 percent of respondents reported that work is a very or somewhat significant source of stress, second only to money matters.3 Serious health issues can arise from stress, from hypertension to cardiovascular disease. Mindfulness training, especially when practiced as a team, can help reduce anxiety and teach emotion regulation strategies to better handle difficult situations.
4. Mindfulness can help improve focus. Distractions abound in the modern office. Open office concepts can mean employees need to filter out foosball matches to focus, frequent meetings may disrupt workflow, and notifications from email, texts and other social media can make it hard to concentrate. A study that looked at how participants were able to focus found that experienced mindful meditators performed better on all measures of attention and had higher self-reported mindfulness than those with no meditation experience.4
5. Mindfulness can be a good team-building activity. Practicing mindfulness can be a great way to bring a team together, by providing a team-building activity and by teaching how to better relate to one another. Whether you invite an instructor in to lead a yoga, tai chi or qigong class, or you offer a more structured meditation training program, the team can apply what they learn to handling challenges at work, being more focused and taking time to be present.
Thinking of how to get started? Of course, any mindfulness program should be voluntary for employees. Thirty-minute sessions once or twice a week can create a space where your team can practice guided meditation and discuss how to apply it to their experiences at work. Creating a more mindful culture can have benefits for you and your team, both inside and outside of the office.
4 Moore, A. & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, mindfulness and cognitive flexibility. Consciousness & Cognition, 18(1), 176-186
Company Release – 8/8/2019 9:00 AM ET
HARTFORD, Conn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) today announced that it has been named a Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion by Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities for the second consecutive year. The company scored 100 on the 2019 Disability Equality Index® (DEI), a comprehensive benchmarking tool that measures a company’s disability inclusion practices and policies related to culture, leadership, accessibility, employment, community engagement and supplier diversity.
“It’s an honor to be recognized once again by Disability:IN and the American Association of People with Disabilities,” said Fred Colon, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Travelers. “By fostering an environment of diversity and inclusion, we’re bringing together people with different backgrounds and perspectives to encourage new ideas and innovation in everything we do.”
Diversity and inclusion is a business imperative at Travelers, and the company supports its employees with disabilities in a number of ways. In addition to staffing a centralized team committed to addressing employee accommodation requests, the company launched its disAbility Network in 2013, a resource group dedicated to promoting the understanding of people with disabilities. The group has grown to include more than 2,100 employees across the company. Travelers also works with state and local agencies in certain locations to develop career path programs for individuals with disabilities and is a member of the Autism @ Work Employer Roundtable.
“Through networking events and mentorships, the disAbility Network is shifting the focus from people’s disabilities to their abilities and bringing a greater level of awareness to the community as a whole,” said Robert Braswell, Chair of the disAbility Network at Travelers.
Travelers was also recently recognized as the Employer of the Year by Lifeworks, a Minnesota-based nonprofit that partners with companies to promote and advance employment for individuals with disabilities.
For more information about the DEI, visit disabilityin.org/what-we-do/disability-equality-index.
The Travelers Companies, Inc. (NYSE: TRV) is a leading provider of property casualty insurance for auto, home and business. A component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, Travelers has approximately 30,000 employees and generated revenues of approximately $30 billion in 2018. For more information, visit www.travelers.com.
Courtney Garro, 860.277.8719
Source: The Travelers Companies, Inc.
The term distracted driving has become much-discussed as of late, but distracted walking is another common phenomenon. From crossing intersections to pushing shopping carts in crowded parking lots, you can see pedestrians focused more on their smartphones in potentially dangerous situations than their surroundings. There are near-misses with passing cars, twisted ankles on potholes and collisions with objects or other distracted walkers.
Injuries from walking while using a cell phone more than doubled over a five-year period, while the total number of pedestrian injuries dropped during the same time period.1 Researchers believe the actual numbers might be higher than reported, especially if patients are reluctant to share the true cause of their injuries. It has become such a problem that for the first time, the National Safety Council included cell phone distracted walking as a cause of unintentional deaths and injuries in its 2015 Injury Facts Report.2
When distracted walking meets the workplace, employee health can suffer. Workers operating machinery while texting or using their smartphones may injure themselves or others, which may lead to lost time from work. Employees more focused on their devices than another person as they pass in common corridors may not be as engaged in their immediate surroundings and might not see potential hazards.
Creating a Formal Policy
There are also concerns about productivity associated with distracted walking. If you go to a common area in a company, you will likely find employees walking and talking or texting during business hours. Distracted walking can be part of a broader conversation about the use of mobile devices, personal email, texting and browsing the Internet during the work day.
A formal policy to address distracted walking, as part of a policy on the appropriate use of personal devices in the workplace, can help set some guidelines for employees and reduce distractions. As with all aspects of creating a culture of safety, it is important that people at all levels of the company adhere to the policy.
The modern office for the road warrior could find you working anywhere at any time, from early mornings at the corner coffee shop to red-eye flights at your airplane’s seatback tray table. You may even work virtually, without a traditional corporate office, moving your laptop from the kitchen counter to your home office without setting up an ergonomically-correct workplace. Over time, these work situations can take their toll on the body.
Although laptops and tablets allow for greater mobility and compactness, they lack the adjustability of traditional desktop workstations. With the on-the-go workforce here to stay, it is important to avoid the discomfort, strains and sprains that can accompany poor ergonomics. Following are some tips to help road warriors improve their comfort, wherever their travels may take them.
Trading Adjustability for Mobility
The standard desktop computer consists of three basic and traditionally separate elements: the monitor, the keyboard and a pointing device, such as a mouse. These three are integrated into the laptop in a design that typically trades adjustability for compactness. According to Travelers Risk Control ergonomics professionals, adjustability is a major factor in user comfort.
That lack of adjustability in a laptop may either mean that having the laptop keyboard in an optimal position results in a difficult-to-read screen, or that positioning the laptop screen for better eye comfort places the laptop keyboard in an uncomfortable position. Fortunately, there are ways to compensate for this lack of adjustability.
Pointing Device (aka Mouse) Tips
Laptop Monitor Tips
Tablet Monitor Tips
Extreme temperatures, from wintry winds to summer heat waves, can make us more mindful of the importance of an energy-efficient home. But no matter the season or which climate you live in, taking a few key steps can make a significant difference on your energy bills and improve the comfort of your home.
That’s because making your home more energy efficient can do more than help control temperatures. Mold, excessive dust, ice dams, moisture on windows, sinus problems and inordinate noise can also be potentially addressed by making home improvements.
Rather than one-off solutions, such as adding insulation or replacing dated appliances with more energy efficient ones, ENERGY STAR® recommends a more holistic approach. Their Home Performance survey, conducted by a qualified contractor, can help homeowners identify specific problems. For example, ice-cold kitchen floors, a second-floor bedroom that’s too hot in the summer or high energy bills, might be signs of larger issues.
According to ENERGY STAR, here are some improvements that homeowners typically make after an audit of their home:
After a home contractor inspects your home, you should receive a detailed work proposal following the evaluation. The contractor may have other recommendations, such as installing solar panels or a solar hot water system. Homeowners can expect to save 20 percent or more on the annual utility bill, depending on the type of improvements. For more details and to find a participating contractor, visit www.energystar.gov.