One of the paradoxes of remote work is the strange feeling of isolation and solitude, even though we “see” our colleagues onscreen throughout the day. How can we feel so far apart while being “connected” 24/7!? After months of interactions limited by interfaces, it’s clear that there is something missing from our day to day…
How do we fill this void? Everything points to laughing being better than crying – literally! Indeed, humour brings people together, even in the workplace. Louise Richer, founder and CEO of l’École nationale de l’humour à Montréal, did her MBA on this exact topic. Her research has shown her that humour is an essential ingredient for a fulfilling workplace culture, as well as an indispensable management skill. “Contrary to management techniques of the past where pleasure was considered a source of chaos, we now realize that it is a tool for solidarity and efficiency,” she explains.
The benefits of laughter go well beyond the pleasant feelings of joy and wellbeing it gives us. It’s proven that laughing helps create bonds of trust (one of the essential components of being engaged and mobilized at work) thanks to oxytocin, a hormone that acts as a “social lubricant”.
Being less stressed – because laughing has an impact on that too – and more receptive also improves communication with peers, Louise Richer remarks. “Humour fosters fluid conversation and develops attention span and message retention.” An undeniable advantage when the days – and the online meetings – string together and all start to feel the same.
For Naomi Bagdonas, a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business who studies humour in business, leaders would be well-advised to use their sense of humour. Indeed, those who dare to use humour with their teams “are seen as 27 percent more motivating and admired. Their employees are 15 percent more engaged. Their teams are more than twice as likely to solve a creativity challenge.”
In these times of feeling isolated, fatigued, and, for some, disengaged, laughing is so much more than simply letting off steam! It’s a way of adding a little lightness to the seriousness of the everyday, and to say to others that we “exist” behind our screens. By laughing, we make connections and build a healthy workplace. It’s one of the keys to joining forces more effectively and taking on major challenges… together!
Why not give it a try?