Originally posted May 12, 2014 on??http://hr.blr.com.

New research by Steelcase shows that 41 percent of workers report not being able to concentrate easily, while the average person loses 86 minutes per day due to distractions.

The recent 14-country Steelcase/Ipsos study conducted as part of its wellbeing research revealed the growing lack of mindfulness in the workplace. The workplace research addressed how the physical environment can support or hinder mindfulness, along with five other dimensions of wellbeing. The researchers found that the physical environment offers behavioral cues that can promote, or hinder, employee’s physical, cognitive and emotional states and long-term health.

Only 59 percent of employees reported their environment enabled them to feel relaxed and calm, while only 58 percent reported being able to work in teams without being interrupted or disturbed. Nearly half of all workers surveyed reported not having adequate spaces that support mindfulness and focus. Ongoing Steelcase research also found that workers in North America lose 86 minutes per day due to a variety of distractions in the workplace.

“Mindfulness means balancing the intense pace of life with being fully present in the moment,” said Donna Flynn, director of Workspaces Futures at Steelcase. “With the proliferation of technology and growth of distributed work across time and space, workers are facing unprecedented distractions combined with pressures to be always on, leaving them stressed, tired, and overwhelmed. Healthy and mindful employees are a competitive advantage in today’s business world, but to achieve it workers need supportive environments that give them the emotional capacity to interpret and experience events in a way that leads to productive, positive actions.”

The Steelcase researchers identified and developed design concepts that companies can incorporate into their workplace to help encourage mindfulness by enhancing employees’ ability to concentrate and make thoughtful choices amid distractions and disturbances.

Steelcase key ideas when designing for mindfulness include:

  • Offer spaces where people can seek solitude and respite, or connect with others without distractions or interference.
  • Design areas that allow workers to control the amount of sensory stimulation they are exposed to and enable them to amp it up or down.
  • Create spaces that help people stay focused as they interact with others one-on-one and eye-to-eye
  • Offer places that are calming, through the materials, textures, colors, lighting and views.

“Given the mental fatigue that comes with high cognitive load, workers need physical spaces that help them manage the cognitive load and be fully present in the moment,” says Beatriz Arantes, senior researcher and environmental psychologist with Steelcase Workspace Futures.