Decoding the Future of Work
Daily work is often fast-paced, and demand for employee’s time and attention is high. In this environment, rest and rejuvenation are often deprioritized, causing engagement, attention, and productivity to suffer.
Common to US work culture, there is a long-standing myth that asserts that the harder we work, the greater our success. Relatedly, most of us have heard phrases like, “rest is for the weak” and “success comes to those who work the hardest.” Unfortunately, these messages have led to greater adherence to long work hours and lack of rest, a model that is unsustainable and likely comes at the expense of our personal well-being. Contrary to popular belief, the need for ‘rest’ isn’t a malfunction, but an inherent part of being human. Countless authors and researchers now advise that rest is a key contributor to sustained success and long-term productivity. While acknowledging this idea can be relatively easy, supporting it through consistent daily practice can be much harder. Moreover, creating moments for rest during a busy workday filled with extraneous responsibilities can feel next to impossible. The good news is that restful practices can be implemented into your day with a bit of intentional planning and creativity. These positive energy rituals - highly specific routines for managing energy - are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance. 
To effectively make your workday more restful, we’ve identified three key moments where rest practices can be introduced to better manage energy expenditure, productivity, focus, and mental clarity. These moments correlate with the beginning, middle, and end of a traditional workday in a holistic approach meant to create balance and sustainability for better engagement and personal well-being. Aligned with each of these moments, we’ve provided several practical methods for introducing restful habits into the workday. When considering adding rest into your own workday, it’s important to tailor these recommendations to custom fit your style, bandwidth, and interests. Your needs may look different throughout the day, and maybe different to others.
If you aren’t convinced yet of the value of rest, consider how top athletes train and prepare for competition. It’s not by one relentless, singular training session that lasts weeks on end, but by a plan that incorporates focused bursts of work and intentional pauses for recovery; trainers and athletes recognize that pausing is essential for sustained, high-performance results. In the book The Passion Paradox, a comparison is made between the mindset of elite athletes to those in the workforce, with the authors arguing that deep focus with intentional breaks equates to major improvements. 
Paying attention to one’s own rest deficits is key if you are aiming for sustained productivity and long-term well-being. If you’re exhausted, you can’t do your best work—and if you’re not getting the right type of rest, you’re not going to be able to get past that exhaustion.  As you reflect on your own rest needs, consider all seven categories of rest: physical, mental, emotional, social, sensory, creative and spiritual. Ask yourself what type(s) of rest your body and mind most need right now. We recommend conducting a personal rest assessment and rating yourself in each category, in order to identify which categories of rest for you are most fulfilled and most depleted. Once you have identified your individual rest needs, you can better determine restful activities to incorporate in order to help you restore energy, feel renewed and experience your own ideal restful workday.
Beyond implementing restful practices for the individual, consider how these same techniques could be applied within your teams and across your organization. Leaders, how could you help your team commit to rest practices in order to help everyone be more productive (and dare, we say, happier?!). We encourage you to get your team and organization involved by making a collective agreement to implement some or all of the above strategies as a team. Then, plan to check in on the impact after a month. How did intentional rest impact productivity and well-being for your team? Where else could rest be implemented?
Implementing well-being practices into your organizational culture and work philosophy on a broader scale can be challenging - you don’t have to do it alone. At Sia Partners, we have a team of consultants who are regularly thinking about topics such as rest and wellness, to help our clients tackle the tough organizational health and effectiveness challenges we all are facing today. Get in touch if you are ready to incorporate a focus on employee well-being across your organization to drive long-term, positive impact.