Employees who take part in a ten-minute mindfulness session are more likely to generate original ideas, new research from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) reveals.

Researchers Emma Schootstra, Dirk Deichmann and Evgenia Dolgova found that employees who participated in guided mindfulness meditation for just ten minutes, generated a 22% wider range of ideas, compared to those who took part in fake meditation, or just “relaxed”.

Participants of the study were asked to present as many business ideas for the use of drones as they could within a limited time. One third had a guided meditation session, one third had a fake meditation session, and one third were just told to “relax and let their thoughts flow freely”. Although all three groups produced roughly the same number of ideas, the group that took part in guided mindfulness meditation produced significantly more inventive uses for drones, such as washing windows, extinguishing fires and even feeding giraffes.

According to the researchers, mindfulness essentially removes our innate “fight or flight” response, meaning that meditating participants feel significantly less restless, nervous and irritated, allowing them to focus on being creative.

“Creativity has traditionally been the responsibility of research and development departments; however, it is now vital for company survival that employees at all levels contribute to organisational innovation.” says Deichmann

This research provides managers with a cost-effective way to increase creativity in the workplace.

“Mindfulness meditation is not only an effective creativity booster, it is affordable, accessible and easy to organise in the work place: all it needs is a quiet place, a comfortable chair and access to one of the many mindfulness exercises that can be found online or in apps.” says Evgenia Dolgova

The thesis is available on the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM) website.