Mindfulness at work


A common lament I hear from friends and colleagues is ‘How I wish I could practice mindfulness but I don’t have time’.  This is a misconception the practice of mindfulness does not mean that you suddenly give up life and go off to a meditation center in some far away place and practice mindfulness mediation or spend 2 hours in meditation before the day begins. Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone, anywhere.

Mindfulness is deliberate paying full attention to what is happening around you and within you  (your body, mind & soul). Thus mindfulness is all about paying full attention to the present without criticism and judgement.  when one looks at ones work day isn’t that we are  all aspiring to, to stay focused, productive and effective.

My study takes me down the path of figuring ways and means of how we can be more mindful at work. My experience goes back many years when  I was working with a particular client on a specific project and the only time I could call and discuss any of the work that was being done or needed attention was after closing hours because beyond that was when they started regular work. One might wonder what they did at other times, they were busy with meetings. Why do they spend so much time the reasons were amazing the meeting leader had no agenda, they were served tea and snacks, the chairs were comfortable and thus they drifted from one topic in between discussing the objective of the meeting. And before they realized it the day was gone they were working late once more. The new CEO that took over the company create a mindfulness practice that shortened the meeting time by leaps and bounds. He implemented a simple and yet effective plan. He decided to take away all the chairs and stopped serving tea and snacks.. All he left was Flipchart boards and markers. He also introduced a new concept that made a world of difference. He wanted the agenda of the meeting circulated in advance and in the event it was a emergency meeting it was mandatory that the meeting leader put up the agenda of the meeting on a Flipchart so that all those who walked in knew exactly why they were there. This CEO had implemented mindfulness even without realizing it. This to me was an excellent practice of mindfulness at work. Due to the factor that they had to stand through out the meeting and didn’t have sustenance helped them to focus on the job at hand, disband and get back to work.  All he did was create a environment where the participants had to pay attention to the current discussion and solving the issue at hand.

My second example is taken from a garment manufacturing facility based in one of the free trade zone. The General Manager of this plant shares the improvement over the years. during the early years of the factory the visit from a principle was a nightmare beacuse they  spent many hours preparing for the visit the previous day. And in order to ensure that all went off well they would play a particular pre -planned song in order to let the employees the representatives of the principle had just turned in from the gate. Everyone on the floor suddenly begins to scramble around putting things in place.which caused a huge amount of stress for all involved.  Finally after many years of this same struggle the facility introduced 5S and subsequently Lean management. The principles of 5S and Lean created a culture of mindfulness because employees began to operate with awareness of what they were doing. They learned to follow the traffic light system used in the factory floor, they made sure they did not clutter surroundings, they ensured there was a better flow of the line, they avoided heaping garments in their work space. This put an end to the chaos and stress that was brought about by the visit of the principles. Instead the factory made it a way of life.

Both these two examples are proof that mindfulness can be practiced any time at work. whether it is listening to a fellow employees grievance, while answering an email, at a meeting, during a sales call, helping a customer or during production.

Thus we need to realize that mindfulness is a way of life and not some distant practice that can be followed by the saffron clad buddhist monks only,  It is what our brain is made for, focus on one thing at a time and be aware of what happens around you and within you.

Mindfulness is a way of life and is a great practice to use at work. It helps us step out of Auto pilot and live consciously. Which will be the key to continuous  improvement and success.


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