The coronavirus (COVID-19) presents some new and unique challenges, where many employees are required to work from home. With this sudden change had come the challenge of blurred lines between career and personal life. As a result, numerous employees are experiencing lower work productivity, lessened motivation, increased overall stress levels, and poorer mental health. One approach to working from home is mindfulness. Mindfulness may be particularly beneficial as it can:
1. Help employees mentally disconnect from their work when they are done with work (by facilitating psychological detachment from work);
2. 2.improve individual’s attention and improve performance;
3. 3.allow employees to better manage and recover from video conferencing (i.e., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc) screen fatigue.
This post will provide a few recommendations for supervisors and team leaders responsible for their employee’s well-being and productivity—the following highlights how mindfulness can support an employee with the three concerns mentioned above.
Disconnecting from Work
The blurring of professional and personal life boundaries makes it more difficult for many employees to unplug and disconnect from work. As a result, individuals may find it difficult to stop thinking about work after work hours; this phenomenon is known as work-related rumination. Mindfulness causes an individual to pay attention to the present moment in a more objective manner, leading to reduced levels of rumination.
• Body scans or grounding exercises can help individuals disengage from rumination and focus on the present.
Attention and Task Performance
The home environment can introduce numerous distractions, making it difficult for employees to concentrate. Mindfulness entails employees paying attention to what is occurring in the present moment, and it has been shown to lead to enhanced self-regulation of attention. First and foremost, it would be necessary for an individual to eliminate as many distractions from their ‘work station/area’ and then anchor their attention on breathing exercises to transfer their attention to the tasks on hand.
Zoom fatigue is a phenomenon of drain caused by video conferencing or screen fatigue in general. As such, mindfulness may help employees regulate their behavior to manage screen exposure better. Consider the following three approaches:
• Engage in mindful check-in every hour;
• Engage in a 3-minute breathing space meditation a few times during the workday
• Engage in a more extended meditation during a lunch break
Toniolo-Barrios, M., & Pitt, L. (2021). Mindfulness and the challenges of working from home in times of crisis. Business Horizons, 64(2), 189. https://doi.org/10.1016/J.BUSHOR.2020.09.004
Workplace Mental Health – Working Remotely During COVID-19. (2020). American Psychiatric Association Center for Workplace Mental Health. https://www.workplacementalhealth.org/employer-resources/working-remotely-during-covid-19