As I wrote in the first blog on this series, I have been wondering about the value of practicing mindfulness with digital teams to foster communication and productivity for some time. As a CEO and also an academic researcher in the field of AI, I wanted to identify research that would confirm the hypothesis that mindfulness-based practices in virtual meetings would increase human connection and contribute to meeting effectiveness.
I was delighted to have a virtual linked in discussion with Paul Sharp, who lives in Düsseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany and recently completed his Masters of Science at Radboud University. on this topic, and he kindly sent me his masters thesis to read.
Having read his thesis research, I am privileged to share some of the key highlights from his research that will further validates the value of practicing mindfulness in virtual communication.
According to Paul Sharpe, “many employees do not rest enough in between, feel distant with their team members due to not seeing each other in person, and eventually make them less satisfied with the meetings. Many organizations are interested in counteracting these challenges but look for brief intervention formats due to limited resources. “
Paul’s research investigated if the known benefits of mindfulness interventions can also be visible in a brief intervention format. The investigated variables were satisfaction with the meeting process and outcome, as well as perceived team closeness. In total, his research examined 125 employees, from 17 teams across 12 unique organizations from diverse countries, including: Germany, UK, Switzerland and Spain. His research findings determined that brief mindfulness-based interventions could be a beneficial approach to enhance meeting satisfaction and connection within the team. Specific exercises were designed and tested to augment virtual team meetings.
Although Paul’s research was not longitudinal with a larger population, there was promising evidence that validated by practicing mindfulness in virtual teams opens up more communication dialogue and creates a deeper connection for virtual team members.
To help put this more in business terms – the waste of inefficient communication is enormous. Employees spend 6.03 hours a day on communications and collaboration tasks (68.6% of their time). They lose 1.26 hours due to inefficiencies (20.9%). The Impact on a companies time lost due to inefficiencies is an average of $11,000 per employee (Frenkel, Karen, CIO Insights).
In other words, building mindfulness into corporate programs can improve corporate purpose alignment by bringing stronger humanistic approaches into corporate cultures. To open one’s mind – it needs calming to be ready to listen and receive. Paul’s research is another positive step in the right direction, and I wish him incredible success as he advances his career with a vision to bring more humanity to the workplace, and an ingredient that we need much more of.
Combining mindfulness communication exercises like Paul’s research has validated with augmented anonymous and more private methods that are real time can create deeper harmony and authenticity in human communication. His research is a valuable source of research to the increasing body of research on mindfulness and when I did a Google search, I found over 720,000,000 hits on mindfulness, and on google scholar, I found over 874,000 hits – clearly its gone mainstream.
In my own company, we practice a daily ritual called Hug Huddles where we do a daily check in on how everyone is feeling, and have cards (emoji signs – happy, really happy, not so happy, etc) to stimulate remote communication. We also have built software so employees can check in on their mental health and wellness to track anonymously and privately their daily Moods and derive insights using advanced AI methods (ie: bringing all types of data sets together, weather, construction, traffic, telematics data, work day data, health benefits data, etc.).
In addition, applying other employee communication developmental methods like appreciative inquiry which is an attempt to use collective inquiry and dialogue to generate positive ideas that might otherwise be masked by unproductive, though hidden, cultural biases – in simpler terms increased diversity and dialogue that is exploratory offers richer sense making.
Calming one’s mind using mindfulness techniques to increase focus and attention, learning to dialogue to generate new ideas and have richer discussions, and being able to privately track your moods safely and anonymously are all are powerful methods to enable a stronger human advantage in our increasingly digital world.
Bottomline, mindfulness increases workforce productivity, employee engagement and increases employee connectedness and closeness.
You can learn more about Paul’s mindfulness research by contacting him here at WeVolve, a consulting organization whose mission to co-create places where people can meet as whole human beings and thrive together.
You can also read more of Dr. Cindy Gordon’s articles on Mindfulness, Happiness and Mood in her Forbes Channel. A listing of some of these articles are here:
Happiness is a leading indicator of Profitability
AI in Healthcare makes our World Healthier
New Challenges in Mental Health That Board Directors Must Pay Attention To
AI HealthCare Apps that Put Mental Health First
Mindfulness Has Many Benefits To Create Healthier and More Productive Organizations
The Great Resignation: Why Unhappiness Must Shift To The Happiness Age