‘Cognition’ is a scientific term for the working of the brain and ‘cognitive fitness’ is all about getting your brain into the best shape possible to enable you to be at your ‘personal best’ every day.
Why should organisations care about cognitive performance?
Organisations are dependent on many things for success – but arguably in the knowledge economy, the most important assets are the people. Businesses are essentially buying “brainpower” so it makes sense that there is some focus on ensuring that each person brings their best mental performance to work and that they are provided with the best range of environments and tools to enable them to get the most from that brain and cognitive ability. So, in the world of knowledge work the ability to derive maximum value from each human brain on the payroll individually and collectively is mission critical – and deserves some attention.
Understanding the factors that influence cognitive performance
Our study, undertaken in partnership with The Centre for Evidence Based Management (CEBMa) identified and examined robust, peer reviewed academic research, seeking to understand what research could tell us about the factors that impact the cognitive performance of the brain. The rigour and efficacy of the process used by CEBMa guarantees that data is ‘bullet proof’ and can be relied on as the best available scientific evidence on the subject at this time. This research identified a number of factors that positively or negatively impact the brain’s mental performance – illustrated on the graphic below. Some of these factors are about personal habits and behaviours (i.e. exercise, hydration, sleep, caffeine), but others are about the environment in which people work (i.e. noise & interruptions, temperature, lighting). To understand the impact of these factors and the issues surrounding the adoption of better habits and behaviours, we also undertook a trial which showed that while many of these factors might seem “obvious”, that people don’t always adopt the best habits, and don’t always fully understand the importance of these factors to their own brain’s performance. Through a process of education and experimentation, a team of volunteers started to adopt better habits that anecdotally were reported as beneficial to their personal cognitive performance. To learn more about the factors that the research identified, please click here to read our series of blogs which look at each factor in turn.
We develop bespoke programmes to help organisations look at how well the factors are supported through an assessment (see next section) and through feedback from the workforce. In this way we can establish the degree to which people understand the importance of these factors and how well they feel the workplace supports these needs. Through these two activities, it is possible to establish the “current stage” and propose interventions / activities / actions for improvement.
Workplace Infrastructure Assessment
A one day on-site survey can establish how well the workplace infrastructure and policies support the cognitive performance criteria. It is critical that office design and facilities provision support these factors and encourage adoption among the workforce. In so doing, it is possible to actively plan to provide the right conditions as well as trying to avoid creating conditions that hinder people’s performance. For more information get in contact by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling +44 207 743 7110.