Giggling Like Google: The Art of Laughter in the Office
Feel like your office is missing something? It could be a good fit of the giggles. No, we’re not joking…
We all know that laughter makes us feel good – but is there a business case for chortling our way through the work day?
Corporate chuckles – just for laughs?
Actually, the BBC and Google seem to think that there is…
“Laughter Yoga” – we kid you not – is the latest workplace wellbeing craze. It’s been around for well over a decade but is finally taking off among companies looking to get that laughter feeling without the hassle of humour.
Each laughter yoga session starts with breathing exercises, before moving on to specific laughter exercises. The result? According to the On Site Massage Co, which provides wellbeing treatments to a range of corporate clients, it produces “prolonged and hearty unconditional laughter”. This in turn results in participants feeling happier and more relaxed.
Big companies are lining up for this training (the BBC and Google have used it) for its workplace wellbeing benefits but, well, we can’t help but feel it misses the point… Yes, it lowers blood pressure, raises serotonin levels and boosts endorphins. But can you build a connection with co-workers in this way?
Putting a buzz back into the workplace
What office workers really want is a buzzing working environment – and that doesn’t just mean the dull hum of colleagues getting on with their jobs.
After all, humour powers many of our most human connections, acting as a powerful bonding tool. Sharing a joke can be an ice-breaker. It can boost your creativity. And smiling – a natural by-product of laughter – helps to draw people together.
Laughter is also a chance to be genuine, breaking down some of the barriers of the formal office environment. As John Cleese (yes, that John Cleese) wrote in Life and How to Survive It; “I remember Jonathan Miller saying that true humour produces great intimacy […] Because the best humour emphasises the similarities between people, not the differences.”
And on the subject of being genuine, a more recent study suggests that constantly masking your emotions in the workplace can lead to wellbeing issues such as burnout. Laughter performs an important function by providing a welcome release from this kind of tension.
All in all, having a laugh makes us that bit happier to be at work.
Canned laughter in the office?
As laughter yoga teaches us, you can manufacture laughter in the office. You can even exercise those laughter muscles without ever cracking or hearing a joke.
But do we really need to be taking pre-scheduled laughter breaks led by specialists? What does that say about the workplaces we’ve created?
After all, there is a far easier way to reap the benefits of laughter in the workplace: maybe you should try exercising your sense of humour instead?
Go on, have a giggle.
Related content on the blog:
- 7 Ways to Power Up Your Productivity in the Office
- The Art of Zen in the Office
- From Tattoos to Ball Pools: Promoting Radical Creativity in the Workplace