Research shows that getting short breaks throughout the day boosts health and job performance. But in fast-paced, collaborative work environments, there’s often nowhere to hide, which can make it challenging to take time out to recharge. At Liquid’s Portland office, we’ve made it one step easier by creating a special space for “strategic renewal.”
Productivity is cyclical.
Productivity and performance expert Tony Schwartz has made the case to companies such as Apple and Google and to readers of his New York Times “Life@work” column: When under pressure to perform, many people have a tendency to push harder and forego rest. But that’s a mistake. “Human beings aren’t designed to expend energy continuously,” Schwartz writes. “Rather, we’re meant to pulse between spending and recovering energy.” The best kind of rest includes not just a long stretch of sleep at night, but also short, restorative breaks throughout the day—about every 90 minutes or so, ideally. That goes for athletes, chess players, and even brand strategists, research indicates.
A culture of renewal.
“At Liquid, we take a holistic approach to helping employees recharge their physical and creative batteries,” says Alfredo Muccino, one of Liquid’s founders and Chief Creative Officer. We believe that making time for creative nourishment at work is important—which is part of the reason we host lectures by respected creative leaders, run an experimental gallery, and provide inspirational trainings, and offsite team-building activities. It also means giving employees time away from work—whether its a paid day off to recuperate from a demanding deadline—or those short, periodic breaks that Schwartz is talking about. In order to make this possible we asked ourselves “what can a workplace do to help employees take “strategic” rests during the day?”
Last year, Brand Content Director Josh Berger got us thinking seriously about an answer to that question. Josh had just returned to work at Liquid’s Portland office following a serious bike accident that had caused a traumatic brain injury. Josh had made an exceptional recovery, but the injury left one lasting effect: he needed more rest than he previously did. Josh also had developed some creative ideas about rest. At one cognitive therapist’s office, he had experienced the energizing effects of taking a 15-minute lounge in a specially designed “relaxation room”—think easy chair, soothing ocean sounds, mural of a sandy beach. He’d also read an article mentioning a “renewal room” that Schwartz’s company provided employees for napping, meditating, and relaxing. Why not bring that idea to Liquid, Josh suggested—not only for the sake of his own health, but for his coworkers’, too? With our Portland office readying to move to a larger space, we had the perfect opportunity to act.
“This is a very fast-paced business with a lot of collaboration,” says Director of Operations Melissa Jaacks. “Sometime you really need a break in order to re-engage.” The “wellness” room Jaacks helped create gives employees a perfect place to escape from e-mails, phone calls and the general noise and hub-bub of an open-plan office (and its frequent musical soundtrack). The room is just a sofa, a recliner, and some pillows and blankets enclosed by four walls—three painted soothing gray and white, one frosted glass. That’s the point: minimum distraction, maximum relaxation. Available in 20-minute increments, the room can double as a lactation room or meeting room. “Conversations that happen there have a different feeling,” says Jaacks, “because it feels like a living room.”
In an open space environment it is easy to get distracted, so we developed a set of small signs that people can hang by their workspace indicating whether they are “busy” or “free.” And we designed one that sits outside the wellness room, letting people know there is some serious resting going on inside. A testament to its success, the wellness room is in continual use all day long. And we’re pretty sure the result is that our employees are not only happier and better rested, but better performing, too. According to Alfredo, “a holistic approach to life is often credited to Eastern cultures, however the ancient Greeks and Romans also understood and advocated maintaining a healthy balance. Growing up in Rome, I was often reminded of the famous Latin line by the poet Juvenal who wrote: “Mens sana in corpore sano” which essentially means “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” I am thrilled that we can provide a place for people to recharge their body and mind.”
At Liquid, we take a holistic approach to helping employees recharge their physical and creative batteries.
Chief Creative Officer, Liquid Agency
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