Estimates show that during our lives, we’ll spend 90,000 hours at work. To put that into context, you could watch every episode of Friends in 88.5 hours or, putting logistics aside; you could also walk around the world in just over 8,000 hours.

Why am I telling you this? Because a survey by Gallup found that only 8% of the UK population are engaged in their jobs, this means that there are almost 30m people that are not.*

I’m in a very fortunate position to be in the 8% of the population that finds themselves engaged. You may think that it is easy for me to say this, working for a charity for a cause that I believe in, but it’s the people and the culture that keep me engaged. No matter what organsiaiton you work in, or what role you have, there are things that you can do to help make work a more joyful place – like introducing Crisp Thursdays.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of Crisp Thursdays, Bruce Daisley’s book ‘The Joy of Work’ is for you. If you’ve not heard of him before, Campaign magazine describes Daisley as one of the most talented people in Media.

In early 2017 Daisley launched a business podcast called “Eat Sleep Work Repeat,” where he interviews experts in the fields of psychology, neuroscience, and work culture to help uncover how to make work better and understand “what makes great companies tick.”

The book explores 30 ideas that will help you fix your work culture and fall in love with your job again. While some of the ideas may not seem groundbreaking, they are each underpinned by empirical insight, which will help you when making a case for taking a lunch break, reducing overtime, and drinking more tea.

For example, while nobody particularly likes working overtime, research has shown that these good intentions contribute to what is known as the “negative effect.” Many people feel obliged to go the extra mile and often feel guilty for going home on time. Yet, studies have proved that working anything above 55+ hours a week results in exhaustion, a drop in productivity, and creativity.

One venture capitalist measured and tracked the ratio of the hours work vs. output of his team and found that “for every hour his team worked over forty hours a week, productivity dropped.” This insight saw him encourage the team to “work hard and go home”.

The joy of work contains so many practical stories on how to make work a better place for you and your team. I’d highly recommend both the book and the podcast.

My favourite parts from the book include:

  • Creating happier working environments is essential. When we’re feeling stressed, we’re inclined to repeat what we’ve already done before rather than innovate. If you manage a team and have the ability to reduce stress, you should.
  • Doing one thing at a time is a route to happiness as well as productivity.
  • Email contributes almost nothing to productivity levels, but daydreaming and walking does, which gives you the perfect excuse to take yourself out.
  • In terms of productivity, open-plan offices are a disaster. We should actively plan time to work without distractions to focus on one task at a time to help us get into a sense of flow for ‘deep work.’ Noise-cancelling headphones and working from home also helps.
  • Constant busyness doesn’t equate with achieving more. We get, on average, 130 emails per day, and we spend 16 hours a week in meetings with colleagues. Take time to reflect. Is this working for you?
  • Our brains are configured to make a certain number of decisions a day, and once we reach that limit, we can’t make anymore, regardless of how important they are.
  • Lunch breaks are crucial. If you work during your lunch, it is the equivalent of losing 30 days of annual leave.
  • Eating alone, rather than with others, is the most significant contributing factor to an overall sense of unhappiness – try organising more lunches with your colleagues.

*Figures based on ONS statistics dated January 2019 showing there are currently 32.54m people in the UK that are currently employed – a record high.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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