Questions on 'stillness' in the workplace

In a recent interview on Radio 4 with Eddie Mair, Professor Jim Horne from University of Loughborough and Awake spoke on napping at work. A short 15 minute nap at work or getting some zizz zizz as Jim calls it can improve productivity. Particularly for shift and night workers.

As long as the sleep is not deep you will feel more energised and alert. Employees may even think more positively about their job; not feeling the employer is pushing to keep them working without a break. Jim encourages a 'napping area' or quiet setting with comfortable furniture.

The age of gathering is over – the age of sifting has begun...

In many jobs we are bombarded with information and stress 24/7. Pico Iyer in his fascinating book the The Art of Stillness shares with us research in the field of interruptive science. This revealed that it takes 25mins to recover from a phone call, if they come every 11 minutes – you'll never catch up!

We used to spend time gathering information, now we live in the age of the sifter. And those that sift will have an advantage over the next. Pico says to sift well you need to take a stillness break, to reflect, let the mind wander and come back refreshed.

He also points out that 1/3 of US companies have ‘stress-reduction programs’. Quiet periods, stillness breaks and thinking time is saving US companies 3 hundred billion dollars a year – so what does this look like in UK workplace design? Do we need to design for the sifters and stillness keepers?

Stillness-Head

Taking care of peoples minds – challenge for the 21st Century

Kerion Sparrowhawk from My Cognition spoke at Workplace Week in November 2014 about mental health at work. He draws a exaggerated scale with 'sane' at one end and 'insane' at the other, we all know which end we would like to be. But the truth is we are all somewhere between the two points. We very rarely talk about some of the issues we maybe facing at work or the effects they have on us determining our mental health.

Mental ill health at work is thought to cost UK employers £26bn each year – on average £1,035 per employee*. So how can we design a space that improves mental health? In the 21st century what will an office look like that cares for physical and mental health? How can we design a space that improves mental health and designs for sanities sake? RAW is exploring these questions.

Tell us your stories, does your employer let you nap at work, is there a stillness or contemplation space?

Let RAW know...

*Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

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