Arianna Huffington is on a mission to change workplace culture. Her latest book, Thrive, explores ways to avoid burnout and urges readers to pay more attention to their own wellbeing. “We take better care of our smartphones than we do of ourselves,” she says.
During a recent speaking engagement at Toronto’s Branksome Hall school, the author and co-founder of Huffington Post shared some tips for cultivating a healthy workplace.
Make good sleep good business practice
Employees–and executives–in most workplaces are chronically sleep-deprived, points out Huffington, who discovered the danger of exhaustion the hard way. She passed out at work one day and woke up on the floor in a pool of blood.
Today, she makes sure to get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night and encourages staff to do the same. Huffington Post head office has two rooms where staff are free to catch up on shut-eye. They’re “perpetually full now,” she says.
Tired workers make mistakes, Huffington says, that can be costly to themselves and to the business. “We need to stop rewarding people for working long hours.”
Establish a no-devices policy for meetings
Smartphones and laptops are endlessly distracting in meetings, and according to new research, even the sight of them on a desktop can change the nature of conversations, Huffington says. Rather than digging deeply into issues, participants keep exchanges superficial, knowing that they could be interrupted at any point by an electronic ping. As a replacement for digital note-taking, Huffington gives staff “beautiful leather notebooks” to record meetings. “It’s amazing how much more productive they are.”
If you want to really get work done, stop watching cat videos and focus on the task. Huffington recommends an app called Anitsocial that lets users strategically block distractions like Facebook and Twitter when focusing on work. “Trying to be on social media and answer texts at the same time is the most stressful thing you can do,” she says.
Impose a no-emails-on-holiday policy
To ensure that her staff can enjoy true downtime and not feel pressure to answer emails while they’re on vacation, Huffington has borrowed a solution reportedly created by German automotive company Daimler: an email auto-responder that asks senders to contact the recipient again when they’re back in the office. The best part: it then deletes their emails from the vacationer’s inbox. “It’s fantastic,” Huffington says. “There’s no pressure to answer.”
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Have you made any of these changes at your business? Would you consider doing so? Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below.