Written before about how humor at work might be a revenue driver (although admittedly I doubt “humor” is a line item in most profit & loss statements), and have even pointed to some research that funny is the new sexy (although admittedly looking like Ronaldo probably helps too). Psychologically, this stuff probably interests me because I spent most of my upbringing as a fat dork who only made friends or got the time of day from girls because (a) I was funny and (b) I knew about sports. Was that too deep? Sorry.
Humor at work is an interesting deal. Most bosses, I would think, prefer a very heads-down, get-your-stuff-done work environment. That’s largely why remote work hasn’t scaled yet. A lot of people who become bosses want to physically see their people hitting targets. I get it. “Heads down” can be pretty normative, and it doesn’t feel like there’s truly a place for “humor” in that world.
It turns out that a series of studies shows the positive impact humor can have in the office. “According to research from institutions as serious as Wharton, MIT, and London Business School, every chuckle or guffaw brings with it a host of business benefits,” writes Alison Beard in the HBR article, “Leading with Humor.” “Laughter relieves stress and boredom, boosts engagement and well-being, and spurs not only creativity and collaboration but also analytic precision and productivity.” Harvard Business School professor Alison Wood Brooks has also found that cracking jokes at work can make people seem more competent.
Boosts engagement and well-being?
I thought we needed software suites for that!
Oh God, you mean this stuff can be accomplished just with genuine human interaction and I don’t need to buy into a subscription model from a Boston-based company venture-backed by an old white guy somewhere?
I never woulda guessed.
But in all seriousness, check this out. I just started thinking about the last five years of my working existence. When I was predominantly freelance, the absolute №1 thing I missed the most was having inside jokes with people at work. That’s the true power of co-workers. It’s in the tough moments (late deadlines, etc.) but moreso in the ROFL moments. That’s what makes the other bullshit more tolerable.
So guffaw a few times during the work day. I know your boss might prefer you to be hitting some mythical number, but the laughter does matter a lot.