In a time when multi-tasking at work seems to be the norm, focusing your undivided attention on just one thing can be a difficult task.
But in some companies, employees are actively encouraged to set aside their work – albeit for a short period of time each week – to practice just that.
Every Friday, about 30 employees from Havas Group Singapore meet in a conference room at their Robinson Road office to practise mindfulness exercises.
With the guidance of an external facilitator, they are encouraged to sit very still with their eyes closed. For an hour, they learn to pay attention to the sensation and tightness in their body and, at the end of it, they express how they felt during the session.
The integrated advertising agency started its mindfulness programme in August after a change in leadership and the introduction of new work processes.
Ms Jacqui Lim, 41, Havas Group Singapore’s chief executive, says: ” I think it’s really important to arm our staff with the ability with tools to practise mindfulness so that they can cope with everything they have on their plate.”
Other companies, too, are turning to mindfulness and meditation sessions to help their staff deal with the stress of work and daily life.
Co-founder and chief executive of fintech company Bambu, Mr Aki Ranin, introduced meditation and breathing strategies to his employees, after finding his personal sessions beneficial in managing stress and anxiety.
In July, he started leading 10-minute morning meditation sessions at their Shenton Way office, rotating through a couple of meditation apps. He sees the daily 10am sessions as a way to kick-start the day. He says around 30 to 50 per cent of the staff join in, with some regulars.
“I think of it as a daily reset button. If nothing else, you wouldn’t carry all the accumulated stress and emotional baggage from yesterday into today,” says Mr Ranin.
At business school Insead, its mindfulness programme has been running for five years and is popular with staff and students.
External facilitator Toby Ouvry conducts three 45-minutes free sessions a week in the schools’ yoga studio. He says attendance tends to surge at the start of the school term and during stressful periods, such as examination time.
The school is setting aside a designated mindfulness room for these sessions next month.
Besides joining these sessions, Ms Natalia Karelaia, associate professor of Decision Sciences at Insead, says consciously practising mindfulness throughout the day is just as important.
“We should try o be fully present in the moment in any task we engage in,” she says. “Companies can help create a culture of mindfulness by facilitating a shift towards a more reflective and observant mindset and optimising task to reduce multi-tasking.”
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