Relax, You’ll Be More Productive
I wish we could collectively learn to pause more often — to stop for a minute, to breathe, rest and recharge together. You know, like the "5 min stretch breaks" they announce over the PA at the supermarket for employees, but where we actually all do it together, all the time, and we do it joyfully.
A chance to reset our intentions, our perspectives on what’s really important.
A recent article in the New York Times suggests that this makes sense not just for our personal state of bliss but for biz-ness as well. Regular pauses in the mad dash from task to task actually boost efficiency and productivity. What would happen is we regularly allowed ourselves to disconnect from ‘go, go, go’ and return to stillness? Silence. Pause.
I suppose the closest thing we have for that may be the Christmas holiday. Many offices close or limit hours for several days around the holidays. Cellphones grow silent; inboxes get ignored. Our focus shifts to family and friends. In my experience though, even as I am able to take a break and offer more time and gratitude to loved ones, the time goes by in a blur. We try to minimize the fuss about the holidays in our family, but it’s challenging not to get caught up in some of the shopping madness, traffic back-ups or flight delays. It’s hard to keep in mind that for some the holiday season is quite the opposite of a time to rest. People who work in retail, the travel industry, bars and restaurants all shift into overdrive. And the ceaseless chatter often begins!
Let’s get back to the idea of a national pause. Admittedly, this concept of the whole country just coming to a halt for a few moments is a bit utopian, meshing better with the Next Economy than the now economy. Although we do have a model in the concept of siesta seen in Spain… Nevertheless, before we get the US to go siesta let’s talk about what we can do near term:
Probably the next best thing would be to bring some stillness and serenity to... our workplace.
In the NYTimes article I referenced above, Tony Schwartz talks about how he has created a work culture at his company that relies on renewal in order to get things done.
Our own offices are a laboratory for the principles we teach. Renewal is central to how we work. We dedicated space to a “renewal” room in which employees can nap, meditate or relax. We have a spacious lounge where employees hang out together and snack on healthy foods we provide. We encourage workers to take renewal breaks throughout the day, and to leave the office for lunch, which we often do together. We allow people to work from home several days a week, in part so they can avoid debilitating rush-hour commutes. Our workdays end at 6 pm and we don’t expect anyone to answer e-mail in the evenings or on the weekends. Employees receive four weeks of vacation from their first year.
Our basic idea is that the energy employees bring to their jobs is far more important in terms of the value of their work than is the number of hours they work. By managing energy more skillfully, it’s possible to get more done, in less time, more sustainably. In a decade, no one has ever chosen to leave the company. Our secret is simple — and generally applicable. When we’re renewing, we’re truly renewing, so when we’re working, we can really work.
This is the kind of mindful culture we are embracing at Colab.
Starting yesterday, my fellow coop member Ralph (the one who shared this lovely article), began a new weekly "renewal break" of leaving the office for an hour or so to go for a hike with me, his co-worker (and co-owner).
CoLab’s headquarters is (somewhat on purpose) striking distance from beautiful gorge trails and waterfall parks. We wandered and talk along the way, in a mix of venting, visioning, and quiet contemplation of our surroundings. Though we don’t completely detach from work per say, we come away with the feeling a big collective breathe of fresh air. A bit of a lift to kick off the week and a fresh perspective on the work at hand. This rocks.
Want to go for a walk and talk business? Hit us up.