The effects of a team’s work environment have been recognised as a major contributing factor to a team’s productivity and success. Kathleen Saxton; Founder of The Lighthouse Company kick-started the session with a guided meditation, which was a refreshing start to a Wednesday. She then talked about how we can use meditation techniques to explore our relationships with ourselves and others, effectively gaining a deeper understanding of our subconscious, which would help us identify what areas require more attention.
She was then joined by Roger Frampton; International model and creator of ‘The Frampton Method’, who talked through the negative effects of a sedentary lifestyle on our general health. It became clear during his talk that creating the chair was one of the worst things we could have done for our physical health and goes against the human way of moving. He showed us ways we can easily incorporate ‘conscious movement’ and stretching into a day at the desk. This is essentially just checking your posture and making small corrections every so often to prevent spending hours in a fixed position. He recommended setting a reminder on your phone every hour to “check yourself” so that it slowly becomes a good habit. A scary thought particularly for employers is that 31 million work days are lost due to pain related illnesses, a good reason to incorporate some of Frampton’s techniques into our everyday lives.
Ben McKie; Co-founder of Psyched led a conversation with Dr Robin Carhart-Harris; Head of Imperial Psychedelic Research Group at Imperial College London. He has an interesting study ongoing looking at how psychedelic drugs; particularly a drug found in magic mushrooms – Psilocybin, can help medicate and ultimately reduce depression and support our mental health in general. Currently people diagnosed with depression are prescribed SSRI’s (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Carhart-Harris believes Psilocybin has better long-term effects on depression than SSRI’s. After three weeks, in his feasibility study of the effects of the drug, 50% of participants were in remission and stayed in a similar state for the next twelve months. This can’t be said for a course of SSRI’s which are well known for being difficult to come off. When speaking about the industry involvement of drug testing Carhart-Harris claimed that a main reason for SSRI’s being so heavily prescribed was due to the cost-effectiveness of the drug; “Drugs are being prescribed not solely based on science but instead based on the cost-effectiveness for the pharmaceutical company”. Considering one in four adults suffer from depression and mental illness and yet only 5%, of the £100 billion spent on research, is spent on finding cures or better treatments for mental health issues, this is clearly something that needs addressing. The Psychedelic Research Group launch in September 2018 and are an open science and data sharing group who publish as a collective. This will be an exciting time for science, medicine and advancements in mental health breakthroughs. Hopefully we can finally break the stigma surrounding mental illness.
Pippa Glucklich; Vice-President of WACL, was joined by Afua Basoah; Global Health Strategist & Vice-President of Rabin Martin Agency, Derek Draper; Co-founder and CEO of CDP Leadership Consultants, Soraya Shaw; Strategic Consultant of Wellbeing and Careers at NABS and Sarah Wood; Co-Founder & CEO of Unruly to discuss the best ways we can encourage mindfulness in the workplace and how to increase work productivity in the office. “Multi-tasking is false” something I think made everyone in the room feel uneasy, we’re so used to doing two jobs at once it’s hard to imagine multi-tasking in a negative light. Draper informed us that when you’re interrupted it takes twice as long for your brain to get back to the task, for example if you get interrupted by six of your colleagues for two minutes each then that’s twelve extra minutes you’re going to spend getting re-focussed. “We need to make the time and create the space for this” Wood spoke about how we are now entering a more collaborative industry and for some tasks that’s not helpful. We need to create spaces where people can work in teams but also on their own. This then lead the discussion into creating a workspace that caters to different personalities on the team, so a space that provides for both extroverted and introverted people. People need to feel safe for their brain to switch off survival mode “our brains are constantly looking for threats”. Basoah mentioned how women can feel anxious coming back to work after maternity leave because of the judgement they feel they may face, having to leave early or having had a year out of the office. This kind of anxiety hinders productivity and creativity as the brain is pre-occupied with stress so creating a kinder environment will systematically increase productivity.
Roxanne Taylor; CMO of Accenture led a conversation with Maryam Banikarim; Global CMO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation who is putting a lot of the topics discussed by the other guests to work in Hyatt hotels. One way they are making the workplace more comfortable for an organisation that is multi-sited is by streaming their general meetings, through apps like Periscope, to enable workers across the company to feel involved in decision making and general management whilst sitting at their desks. This method of open communication brings into consideration that feeling of comfort and trust people must have for them to be at their most productive.
Mindfulness is a lot more than sitting and meditating, it’s an understanding of what makes us human and using this understanding will be nothing but beneficial.