The word “Zen” may conjure up a variety of different images, such as a rock garden in a Buddhist monastery, Japanese paintings of mountainous countryside or of monks meditating in silence. The influence of eastern philosophies can be found throughout Western culture and the working world is just one of them. Various celebrities have been known for adopting a Zen approach to their work, such as NBA coach Phil Jackson and Apple founder Steve Jobs. One may even think of the executive on Mad Men who’s obsessed with Asian culture and has his office decorated with Japanese artwork. Although your company may not want to delve that deeply into a Zen-influenced style, some definite advantages can be gained from the ideas behind this eastern philosophy: a focus on essentials, the elimination of clutter, and enhancing one’s ability to concentrate on the task at hand.

In adopting such an approach, your plan might be to create a “Zen” break room for employees or to incorporate a Zen style throughout the office as a whole. The primary goals here would be to help employees eliminate stress and gain some significant health benefits.

Not your average break room

It isn’t necessary to recreate a Buddhist monastery in your office, but devoting a break room to being a place where people can de-stress can be a great help for company morale. Stress has a clear connection with employee performance, so creating an atmosphere where people can unwind will help them work at their optimum potential. A Zen-styled break room can be decorated with plants, providing a calming and healthy effect, as well as brightening up the usual office scenery. When it comes to air quality and mental health, plants can offer some clear benefits on mood and resistance to sickness.

Zen throughout the office

If you’re not able to devote a single room to utilizing a Zen design, you can add elements throughout your office to promote clarity and focus. What may seem simplistic can play a role in helping employees be more creative and develop a positive attitude. One strategy for this would be adding an indoor fountain, which could provide a calming influence as well as a healthy one. Such a water feature generates negative ions, the same way a natural waterfall does, and these ions help with indoor air quality by purifying it and eliminating dust and dirt from what we breathe. When negative ions are taken in, they naturally promote a positive mood and boost one’s energy level from activating our bodies’ serotonin levels.

Benefiting from a health-focused approach

We’re all too familiar with the fact that our offices are where we spend large amounts of time, so developing intelligent solutions for making them more comfortable and healthy is important both for the individual and the company as a whole. With the right approach, it’s possible to achieve a balance between the technology we rely on every day and maintaining a healthy atmosphere designed with people’s comfort and well-being in mind. The real impetus behind such a “Zen at the office” strategy is to create a better means for your employees to focus on work and deal with stress. All in all, such a strategy would establish your company as one that balances professionalism with employee health, morale and quality of life.

Image credit bfishadow

Originally posted on July 22, 2013 @ 10:43 pm


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