According to the experts at mindful.org – a non profit organisation dedicated to championing the benefits of a mindful state – ‘mindfulness’ describes the sense of being fully alert and present in the current moment and not overwhelmed by what is going on around us.
This elevated self awareness helps us to achieve a state of calm, by improving our inner resilience and sense of wellbeing.
When you are organising a meeting or event you want your attendees to be as receptive as possible to your messages so they take the information home and act on it. Therefore it makes business sense to promote mindfulness as it helps to have your audience relaxed and engaged.
Corporate business travel policies tend to work on a ‘one-size-fits-most’ basis, with better terms available for those further up the organisation chart. A more perceptive travel policy would be designed to support those who are doing the most travelling, regardless of their rank. Rushing to catch trains and planes, waiting around in airports and living out of a suitcase are all stressful experiences. Sitting in cramped seats for long flights increases the risk of DVT while repeated jet lag has been linked to medical problems ranging from sleep disorders to liver cancer.
To reduce the negative impact of business travel on the mind and body, travel policies could keep the preferential terms for those doing the most or longest trips, such as:
• Upgrading frequent flyers to business class so they can stretch their legs and catch up on their sleep.
• Prioritising shorter connection times on journeys requiring multiple flights.
• Avoiding late night, early morning and weekend travel for those who exceed a set threshold of days away per month.
All of these considerations come at a price. But when you consider that a burnt out employee may leave the company in search of a better work/life balance – and the cost of recruiting their replacement – it could be money well spent.
Meetings & Events
Have you ever been driving along an unfamiliar road and turned the radio down to look for your turning? We recognise instinctively that our concentration improves when we are calm and quiet. And we can use the same insight to help attendees and delegates to relax and focus on the content of our meetings and events.
Plan their rest
If you’re organising a busy corporate event consider offering a morning yoga or meditation class to help everyone relax before the work begins. Scheduling rest periods into the day enables your audience to process what they have heard and reduces the sense of information overload, so set aside time for delegates to participate in mindful reflection on the meeting so far. This could involve a walk around the grounds, a rest in a WiFi free zone or a quiet refreshment break with soothing background music. Or you could deliver some of the meeting content during a ‘purposeful’ break, combining time out of the meeting room with a meeting-related activity, such as networking or creative brainstorming in small groups.
Set the mood
Try and create an ambience that is welcoming and relaxing. If the seats are hard and unyielding, the lighting too bright and the sound system too high your delegates will soon be mindful that they are physically uncomfortable and mentally overwhelmed. You could also look at the way that chairs are arranged: casual clusters of chairs around tables encourages attendees to feel closer and socially connected to those nearest them, while regulated rows emphasises the sense of isolation as no-one is able to make eye contact with anyone else.
Fuel the mind
When we are tired and stressed it’s easy to turn to food for the energy and comfort we crave, and business trips can become an excuse to eat and drink more than you would at home. Many catering packages are over reliant on carbohydrates, sweets and caffeine, all of which lead to an energy crash in the afternoon. To keep your attendees feeling comfortable in their bodies, look for menus that include wholesome ingredients and fewer processed options.
Pull the plugs
Technology helps us to deliver highly engaging, immersive and impactful meetings and events – but sometimes less is more. Old fashioned, tech free face-to-face meetings – ‘unplugged events’ – are becoming more popular, offering an oasis of calm conversation and traditional networking in an interactive world.