How Much Fun Is Your Workplace?

Lightness and levity at work matter; here's why.

I read a fascinating book, The Levity Effect, by Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher. It's about how "levity" can transform the workplace. They make a powerful case for why levity is an extremely effective tool for helping people to work better.

Now, you might be thinking, as I did, "Levity would sure be tough for me, I'm not particularly funny, and I'm not particularly outgoing."

But what the authors mean by "levity" is really a sense of "lightness."

Ah, I thought, I'm trying! The Ninth of my Twelve Commandments is "Lighten up."

Gostick and Christopher include a quiz about workplace levity. Looking at it, I realized that most of my workplaces included these elements, which I'm sure contributed to the positive experience I had everywhere (except for the summer I worked as a waitress at Dos Hombres Mexican restaurant; zoikes, I did not like that job).

For example, as a clerk for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, I'd assumed that the atmosphere around the Supreme Court would be serious, thoughtful, and grand. And it was. But in her chambers, Justice O'Connor incorporated certain goofy aspects that made it a lot of fun, too. Each Halloween, she required her clerks to decorate elaborate pumpkins, and birthday celebrations were always a big deal, and she took the clerks on a yearly outing (we went fishing). And that sort of thing really made a difference.

How does your workplace measure up? Check out the 11 characteristics that Gostick and Christopher cites in their quiz/checklist:

  • New employees are made to feel welcome
  • Meetings are positive and light
  • We have fun activities at least once a month
  • It's common to hear people laughing around here
  • I can be myself at work
  • We have a lot of celebrations for special events
  • When brainstorming, we like to have fun
  • My boss is usually optimistic and smiling
  • Customers would call us fun to do business with
  • I have a friend at work who makes me laugh
  • We have a good time together

It occurs to me that this is a good list for home, too; I just need to substitute a few words. I've been working hard to be a more light-hearted parent and spouse, and these are helpful points to keep in mind.

Have you found that an atmosphere of levity and good humor makes a difference to your workplace or home? Have you found any good strategies to keep things fun and light?

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Office antics and humor?? What company do these peopple work for?..let me know and I will get my resume ready. We have no fun in our workplace, as it is really not alllowed. Working in a Pediatricians office you would think it would be, but we have no staff meetings, we cannot converse with eachother since it is taking time out from our jobs and we know very little personal info about our fellow employees we work with every day. We are managed by memo and rarely see our manager, if we make even the smallest mistake we are yelled at or \"talked\" to by management, down to the smallest detail as the font size in a message written in a chart. Seeing other co-workers outside the workplace is frowned upon as they think we will all get together and trash-talk our office, any overtime is prohibited but you are expected to get all your work done. Gee, what workplaces ARE you allowed to have fun? After working at many companies in a variety of capacities, I have never had the luxury of a fun workplace.

November 03 2013 at 9:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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