Laugh

Laugh

It’s easy to get into the habit of spending so long frowning into our emails that we don’t have any amusement in our day.

Laughing with our colleagues is vital. Not only do teams who laugh together collaborate better but laughing reduces our stress levels. Also if we’re going to spend 50+ years working we shouldn’t be ashamed of wanting to enjoy it.

It’s easy to get into the habit of spending so long frowning into our emails that we don’t have any amusement in our day.

 

Laughing with our colleagues is vital. Not only do teams who laugh together collaborate better but laughing reduces our stress levels. Also if we’re going to spend 50+ years working we shouldn’t be ashamed of wanting to enjoy it.

 

Over the last few years the demands of work have measurably increased. The average worker receives 140 emails a day and some surveys say that Brits lose as much as two days a week to meetings (link).

 

The biggest victim of perpetual busyness has been laughter.

 

The science suggests that laughter at work often doesn’t even always have to be connected with hilarious colleagues. Research by Robert Provine observed that it was often hard to discern the joke in recorded dialogue amongst laughing colleagues. We use laughter to connect with others.

 

Provine tracked what people had said just before episodes of group laughter. He found that fewer than a fifth of the comments that provoked the laughter were remotely funny to an outside observer. Comments like “it was nice meeting you too!” or “are you sure?”

 

In that case why do we laugh? Laughter is about relationships. We laugh to prove that we’re connected. If we take the laughter away we can feel alone at work. Emma Seppala showed that loneliness at work is a growing problem – and it’s strongly connected to workers feeling burned out and overworked.

 

And does this jollity and happiness have any impact on our ability to do our jobs? Well aside from the sheer pleasure of laughter these workers demonstrate an increase in productivity by about 1/8th (12%) and an increased resilience when it comes to bouncing back from disappointment. A laughing team is a team that re-energises itself in the bad times.

 

So what to do:

 

Let people spend social time together. This isn’t time wasted. Ben Waber found in his research that giving a team a break at the same time as each other increased productivity by 23% (and stress went down by 19%). When a team feels like they’re cooperating with each other they tend to feel more connected and productive.

 

Make time in your week for laughter: Teams that laugh and joke together tend to be better able to open up and share challenges with each other – particularly important for coping with stress and enhancing creative problem solving. Do you have a weekly team meeting? Make sure that you give space in it to the best radiators in your team. Let them fill the space with amusing asides. This isn’t time wasting – it’s building the affinity that improves productivity.

 

Further reading

Are we living in a laughter drought in modern work?

Lucy Kellaway on the death of office chat

We work better when we’re happy



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