Allow me to paint you a picture. You are sitting at your desk in your open plan office. Your one colleague is on the phone, trying to communicate something to a client in a loud, insistent voice. On the other side your boss is standing next to your desk, explaining something over your shoulder to the person who sits next to you. There are people walking up and down past you each time they need to use the copier, and someone has just opened their tuna sandwich they packed for lunch. You feel the headache you woke up with increase, as you try and stop yourself from swearing out loud. Sigh.
It’s only Monday – how will you survive the week!?
Can you resonate with this? Does some version of this scenario take place at your office on a regular basis? Is that a “YES!” I hear? You already know all about IQ and EQ – it’s time to find out more about Sensory Intelligence®! In today’s blog, I want to share with you the significance of Sensory Intelligence® in the workplace, and how it can benefit you and your team.
Firstly, did you know that every person in your workplace has a different sensory threshold? This means that the way they experience the external environment through their senses, differs from yours and every person next to you. That is part of the reason why someone literally might not smell the tuna sandwich, or hear the colleague on the phone, while it drives others crazy. We are often completely unaware of this fundamental, neurological difference. We assume everyone smells, tastes, hears, touches and experiences the world the same as we do.
Why does this matter?
Because, it affects everything we do – from the activities we choose to engage in, the tasks that we are good at, how we communicate, where we sit… and what irritates us (or what doesn’t). And this again affects (amongst others) our stress levels and ability to focus, which has a direct impact on our productivity.
If we can understand our own sensory thresholds, we can gain insight into our own neurological wiring, and understand our behaviours better. We would be able to self-regulate, decrease our stress, focus for longer, communicate better and make wiser choices. Following on that, if we understand our colleagues’ sensory thresholds, we will gain insight into and compassion for their behaviours.
And the best part – it might also be as easy as moving someone to a corner, adding a few dividers or getting more plants for the office (which is always a good idea!)
So back to the original scenario… what can you do if you are the person about to explode? Here are some quick and easy tips:
– Get up!
Movement is the quickest, easiest way to self-regulate. Go and make coffee, walk to the bathroom or simply take a quick stroll down the passage. We guarantee you will feel better, your focus will increase and your stress will decrease.
Communication is key. If we understand each other’s sensory thresholds, and decide on ‘open plan office conduct’ together, it will avoid passive aggressive communication or future conflict.
– Use earphones
Noise cancelling earphones are your best friend in an open plan office. It assists to block out distractions, and helps you to keep focus. But make sure you’re listening to the right music and the right volume.
Sounds too easy? At Sensory Intelligence® Consulting all our tips, tools and strategies are based on sensory neuroscience and are quick, easy and practical to implement and best of all, it’s sustainable over the long term.
Our solutions for businesses include:
– A Sensory Audit™ of the workplace
We use a 50-point rating scale to identify factors that can hamper employee productivity. We look at:
- Collective space,
- Employees’ individual space,
- Wellness factors
– Sensory Matrix™
Online profiling to determine your employees’ sensory threshold, with guidelines on how to best seat and manage them for optimal productivity
– Workshops, customised to your specific needs
- How to improve open plan office productivity
- How to build high-performance teams
- How to promote employee health and wellness
Want to know more? Send us an email, or call us on 061 523 6323. We would love to tell you more about how we can design a bespoke workshop for your company, that meets your specific needs!
Written by Karlien Terblanche, a specialist facilitator with Sensory Intelligence® Consulting, with a special focus on adults and corporate groups. She holds a Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Stellenbosch and specialises in the field of mental health. She has extensive experience in the area of sensory integration in adults and is currently exploring sensory mindfulness as a preventative strategy in mental health and wellness. She is passionate about working with both individual clients and groups and aims to guide her clients to reach their full potential. She fully believes every person can become the hero of their own story.