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5 Evidence-Based Ways to Optimise Your Neurological Performance

Author: freelance writer Lucy Wyndham

Every week, there are new studies released that expand our understanding of how the brain works. You can turn a blind eye to these advances. Or, you can learn to put them to work for you and your organisation. Here are some tricks for optimising neurological performance that are grounded in science.

1. Monitor Yourself

Gone are the days of using a mood ring to study behaviour. There are now biosensor devices that measure your mood, respiratory rate, heart rate variability, and brain waves. For instance, you can translate EEG data into something you can understand and monitor your brain activity using a wireless headset from Emotiv. From there, you can understand when and how to prime yourself for optimum performance.

2. Eat Plenty of Vegetables and Fruits

Your brain and body suffer when you eat foods that are highly processed or have too much sugar. It impairs cognition and alters blood flow to the brain. This is why cognitive dysfunction is more common in diabetics. Natural whole foods offer a more constant, slower source of glucose to help with neurological performance. This means workplace cafeterias should focus on offering plenty of fish, unsaturated fats, cereals, fruits, and vegetables.

3. Meditate and Manage Stress

Chronic stress causes memory loss, and brain cells die when cortisol levels remain chronically high. Therefore, stress management is a must. Working memory in the brain gets a boost from meditation. Meditation has been shown to lower stress, increase cerebral blood flow, and improve focus, mood, and concentration by activating specific parts of the brain.

4. Cross-train the Brain

Stepping out of your cognitive comfort zone is crucial for neurological health. For instance, you should take up hiking if you generally play chess. Learn a new language if you mainly engage in physical activities. And, in the workplace, this may mean having staff work on projects that are not necessarily their strong suit.

5. Encourage Exercise

New blood vessels and cells are generated in the brain through consistent biking, jogging, and other aerobic exercises. Also, your brain’s volume increases in the temporal and frontal areas where working memory and planning go on. A workplace fitness centre and special programs will encourage the gains that can be had from engaging in aerobic exercise at least three times per week for half an hour to an hour.

As we learn more and more about how the brain functions, there are sure to be more “hacks” for getting more out of yourself and your employees.

Workplace Trends will keep you up to date with the latest research. Consider also signing up to attend our London Workplace Trends Spring Summit on 7 March 2018 where we’ll be presenting the best in recently published research about Work and the Workplace.

New Research: UK offices lack spaces that enhance productivity & wellbeing

Author: Maggie Procopi

New research by Office Genie has discovered many of Britain’s workplaces are not catering to employees’ needs. Workspaces are lacking distinct, tailor-made areas that could enable employees to work more effectively – particularly introverted workers.

Key points of interest:

  • Most people don’t have the spaces they need to do their job effectively
  • People want chill-out zones, private spaces and quiet areas
  • Introverts in particular would benefit from the introduction of private, quiet spaces

After surveying 1,456 British office workers, it was revealed the majority of workplaces do not have areas that aid lone-working (67%), offer privacy (54%), or opportunities for quiet work (58%). They also do not have spaces that promote collaboration (45%) or provide chill-out areas for staff (74%).

Respondents were asked if their workplace allows them to carry out their work comfortably and 20% stated it does not. Worryingly, of that number, 70% claim it affects their desire to come to work. In terms of improved wellbeing and productivity, chill-out areas, quiet areas, and private spaces are top of workers’ lists.

The findings showed quiet areas and private spaces would be of particular benefit to introverts in the office. Nearly a third (30%) of those identifying as introverts believe a quiet area would help with their wellbeing, compared to 22% of extroverts. Introverts believe private work stations would provide a boost to productivity: 24%, compared to 17% of extroverts. When a large percentage of the workforce identify as introverts (41%) [1], this is clearly worth bearing in mind.

Robert Hicks, Group HR Director at global employee engagement company Reward Gateway, offers his insight: “An engaged employee knows the company’s purpose, mission and objectives. In turn, they make better decisions for the company, are more productive and innovate more. Studies have shown that workplace satisfaction correlates highly with engagement; the most engaged employees rate their workplace in the 90th percentile.

 “The workplace can change and impact productivity, happiness and engagement, both positively and negatively. Changes that alter an employee’s existing behaviours and habits can be incredibly disruptive. Therefore, you need to cater for a variety of behaviours and habits, from introverts to extroverts, as well as consider how to guide employees through any changes you intend to make.”

Gareth Jones, of office furniture manufacturer Kit Out My Office, adds: “Office workers will often spend a large amount of time sat at a desk or in meeting rooms, so it is important that these spaces are designed in a way that the employees like.

“I am not just talking about making a room look prettier, I’m also talking about improving the functionality to cater for everyone’s needs. For example, if you have staff members that want quiet spaces to make phone calls, why not designate a room or perhaps divide a room by creating multiple snugs for people to take their calls privately, without other people listening in.

“In addition to the above, there’s also a strong argument for having breakaway areas for people to have discussions with colleagues. Don’t think of traditional meeting rooms, think of spaces of relaxation by incorporating sofas or armchairs. They are excellent places for relieving stress or making a meeting feel less formal.”

Further Reading:

Personality and Preferences for Interaction in the Workplace, Research Summary from Dr Nigel Oseland and Herman Miller.

Photo by Crew on Unsplash

Workplace Trends Conference Write Ups

Author: Maggie Procopi

If you couldn’t make it in person to the last Workplace Trends Conference on 18 October, check out these write-ups.

It’s not quite the same as being there, but you’ll get a feel for the great day that was had by all!

Huge thanks to all contributors!

6 Important Reasons Why Working from Home Is Improving Organisations

Author: freelance writer Lucy Wyndham

1. Seniors Are Staying in the Workforce Longer

The number of seniors 65 and older in the workforce has increased in the past couple decades according to the Pew Research Center. 34 percent of older adults would like to work from home, and 74 percent want more work flexibility. Offering remote positions allows golden-agers to delay retirement and continue working.

2. Workers Are Logging in from Home More Often

There is an increase in how long employees are spending working remotely. Between 2012 and 2016, the percentage of employees who work from home one day or less per week decreased from 34 to 25. At the same time, the proportion of those who worked four or five days per week remotely rose 7 percentage points to 31 percent.

3. The Digital Nomad Population Is Growing

In Europe and the United States, a rising proportion of young professionals have used technology to live a nomadic lifestyle and work remotely. One of the biggest drivers of workplace change is virtual teams and flexible work. 37 percent of respondents to a recent Gallup poll reported working virtually at some point.

4. Flexible Workplaces Attract Young Workers

Two out of three younger workers said the option to work from home would greatly increase their interest in an employer. The survey noted that policies that promote a fun, casual, and flexible work atmosphere have a positive impact on which employers young people chose. The opportunity to work remotely adds to how attractive a company seems and its ability to retain staff for a longer average duration.

5. Remote Employees Are Often More Engaged

According to research from the Harvard Business Review, people who work from home are more engaged with bosses and colleagues than in-house workers. The main difference here is the many tech tools at your disposal. Video conferencing has a lot to do with this.

6. At-Home Workers Are More Productive

Employees and employers alike find that working from home boosts productivity. This is because impromptu meetings, loud colleagues, and water cooler talk doesn’t slow things down. About 67 percent of supervisors say remote workers increase productivity overall.

As we learn to use technology to improve the remote workplace environment, the benefits are likely to increase. It only makes sense for organisations and individuals to take advantage of these perks.

Workplace Trends Conference in Pictures

Everyone had a great time at Workplace Trends: The Changing Nature of Work on 18 October!

Our sincere thanks go to Vanessa Champion, founder of ARGENTA and our photographer for the day, for this visual record of the event.