TUESDAY 26 JUN 2018 3:47 PM


Taking time away from the workplace is a worthwhile investment. Suzanne Peck talks about the importance of work-based reflection and networking to boost effectiveness and productivity

Looking back on a working day, do you wonder what you’ve learned? You’ve done lots of things. Meetings, yes. Answering emails, yes. Making a bit of headway with a report or presentation? Maybe.

What’s probably not on your list is pencilling in time to reflect. US research demonstrates that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after 10 days than those who did not reflect. A study of UK commuters found a similar result when those who used their commute to think about and plan for their day were happier, more productive, and less burned out than people who didn’t.

This reflection activates parts of the brain we don’t use when we’re busy, which explains why you have so many great ideas in the shower. This down time is also necessary for our brains to process what we see, make sense of what we’ve experienced, helping us to move forward, come to decisions and think creatively about next steps, and challenge ways of working.

And it has personal and business impact. Management guru Peter Drucker says, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

In one study, researchers from Harvard Business School put employees into three groups. The reflection group spent the last 15 minutes of the day writing and reflecting on the lessons learned. The sharing group also spent 15 minutes writing and reflecting and then spent 5 minutes sharing their notes with others. The control group did not spend any reflection time and continued to work until the end of the day.

The results demonstrated that those in the reflection and sharing groups performed significantly better than those in the control group. Over one month, the reflection group on average increased performance on the final test by 22.8% more than the control group and the sharing group performed 25% better.

But aside from a few minutes on your way home from work, who has the luxury to do a ‘proper’ stop, to take time out to reflect or to connect with peers outside the immediate workplace? We know it’ll pay off, but in a task-oriented world, how can we make it happen and find the time?

Reviewing feedback from last year’s IoIC national conference, more than 40% of delegates cited ‘being able to pause, listen, reflect and recharge’ as the most valuable element of the conference. We’re seeing that figure increasing year on year as a valuable side benefit for delegates.

The IoIC has its national conference in May in Birmingham, with the theme of building reputation from the inside out and it’s a day and a half. Out of London. A huge barrier to enticing busy IC professionals?

But it seems not. We check feedback to make sure the conference model is meeting members’ and delegates’ needs, and it still works, statistically and anecdotally. When people take the time out and get away from the workplace to invest in learning and meeting like-minded people, there are positive benefits.

And the IoIC builds in reflection and active networking opportunities into the conference programme. It’s a good way to meet many people from diverse organisations in a comfortable environment, and away from the workplace there’s more opportunity to pause and reflect.
As internal communication continues to grow as a profession in its own right, getting out and attending professional events builds relationships, raises your profile and expands contacts with future employers, potential clients and business partners. You might even find a few new friends.

Suzanne Peck is president of the IoIC