Unwind: 4 ways we’re finding calm at work

It’s Friday. And I admit we’re looking forward to the weekend. Startups are intense — we know that first hand — so this evening I’m taking a moment to reflect on how we find moments of calm at work.

1. Man’s best friend

Visitors shoot me a quizzical look when they climb the stairs and hear a bark. It’s an instant reminder that you’re not walking into a typical office.

Our resident dog, Shy, is a German Spitz, and there’s no questioning that he’s the darling of the office. On the days he runs into Huckletree Clerkenwell with our CEO, everyone stops a little longer in reception on the way up to their desks or out to lunch, or even while greeting their guests before a meeting.

I love observing these moments, which bring about a noticeable shift in dynamic. Watching a cuddly, little dog wander around the office cuts away any corporate veneer, it makes you feel human. It melts away your stress, if only for a moment. Don’t just take my word for it, The Guardian reports that an office dog is great for reducing stress and increasing job satisfaction. As long as everyone likes dogs, of course.

2. The magic of nature

The first time I came here I felt at home. There’s something peaceful about our space in Clerkenwell that I’ve found in very few work spaces. Since we’re a community full of hustlers, I’m guessing that’s not so much down to the people — though they’re great for many other reasons! So I’ve come to attribute the calm ambience to the interior design, particularly the greenery.

We have two magical plants downstairs that grow upside down. They started as typical floor-growers, had their pots tipped over and hung from the ceiling, and now the branches grow up towards the roots. If that’s not innovation in its most natural form, I don’t know what is! Contemplating the wonder of nature is a great opportunity to step away from tech for a sec.

Studies have shown just about everything you could ever show, but the piece I’m referencing found that adding plants to a space had a positive impact on well-being, productivity and creativity. Interestingly, this is largely due to the fact that they make people feel more engaged with the space, again adding an element of interactivity to an environment that’s otherwise purely functional.

3. Mindful moments

A few months ago we bandied about the idea of rooftop meditation. It sparked curiosity amongst our members but sadly never took off — thanks to a very British summer. It did, however, lead one of our teams to kick off their own mindfulness initiative.

Yniche, who’ve been with us for nearly a year, started a weekly meditation session every Monday using the Headspace app. We joined in in the meeting room a few times, and have found that even 10 minutes of meditation at the start of the day set our minds in a much clearer state.

Despite our awareness of the benefits of meditation, it can be difficult to find the time and space to take these quiet moments at work. This is something we’ve had in mind while working on plans for our next space and hope to be able to integrate into the community culture.

4. Sweet treats

Being human, one of the few necessities of life is eating; it’s something most of us do at least twice a day while here at Huckletree. It’s also a brilliant opportunity to pause, yet one we often forgo in favour of eating al desko.

Turns out that after choosing to have lunch outside or in the breakout space, whether with a group or alone with a book, we feel much more relaxed. Shocking! A few of our members are also using shared meals as a catalyst for team bonding, such as Cubaka’s lunches and Traackr’s breakfast meetings over crumpets. The combination of eating, talking, and getting to know some of the people you’re spending your days with will nearly always make you feel more comfortable, relaxed and calm.

And who could forget the occasional after-work drink? As I type, one of the teams upstairs has just popped open a bottle of bubbly. The noise made me jump — perhaps suggesting that I’m a little too focused for 7pm on a Friday — so on that note, I’m off to unwind!