Research shows it pays to be funny at work (if you manage to avoid these pitfalls).
In this episode, we explore humor as a tool for improving team productivity, engagement, and creativity. Plus, choosing remote work or a higher salary, things we miss (or don't) about the office, and more.
Ryan Purvis 0:00
Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In this series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in the field story from the frontlines, the problems they face and how they solve them. The years they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took, they will help you to get to grips with the digital workspace inner workings.
Heather Bicknell 0:32
I thought if you wanted, we could start with some of those links that you had sent along the other week. There was that LinkedIn poll. So I can explain that one really quickly. And then we can talk about it. So this is a poll from LinkedIn news, UK. And they sort of posed this question to people asking, you know, now that people have had to adopt remote work during lockdown and experienced flexibility, that kind of company, a company it, what would it take to give it up, say, an extra 21,000 pounds? According to a recent survey in the US two major companies, including Apple, Amazon, Salesforce, and Microsoft 64%, would choose to work from home permanently over a this is US dollar $30,000. PayPal? And then it asked the LinkedIn audience, which would you choose the cash to keep working remotely? The decisions too hard or or other
Ryan Purvis 1:38
dichotomy of what the results say? Did I give you the results? Was it still open when I sent?
Heather Bicknell 1:44
So the results? So I voted as, as other I'm in the minority there, but the top 63% said they would take the money, no question. 29% say they'd rather continue working remotely 4% say that? Is it the decisions too hard? And then 3%? Say other? I think a lot of the others are kind of like me, it depends on the I guess circumstance you find yourself in, you know, for where I am currently, I would probably take the pay bump. But if I was working in a more major metropolitan area where commuting was very stressful and expensive, then you have to start to weigh those costs, right? And then make it your decision amount around that amount of money might change.
Ryan Purvis 2:40
Yeah, so when when I looked at this, it was exactly that. So you know, if it was pounds or dollars, if you took the for me, personally, if I looked at the cost versus that working from home, the net effect was like, Well, if it works it out on a monthly basis, you're looking at about 1500 was 21,000, yes, about 1500 1250 a month, more money. Versus now if you look at the travel costs, and all the rest of it, I think I was only getting about 600 pounds more per month. If we just took the casket photo, but that didn't take into account potentially been taxed on it. So you're looking at like 300 pounds, that's infectious in tax. So So for me, it was kind of like, well, it didn't really help me. But I think if you look at a general working mechanism, this is going to be a need for you to go into town to see people you do need to do some stuff face to face, you can't do everything remotely. Even when I worked for businesses where the head office was in Canada, and we were all based in the UK and living where we lived. We still met him in the city once once a week, once every two weeks. So you're going to spend, you are going to need that money one way I know that I think, but I think the the sort of characteristic thing well will take away from your salary. Because you're not you're not coming to the office. I think that's that's not the right way to approach it. I think I think there's a level of paying the person for their value to the organization. factoring in things like, you know, where, you know, you reduce your office space, if not everyone's gonna be in the office. And that reduced to pay your staff. Good, good wages, so they stay with the business.
Heather Bicknell 4:35
Absolutely. And there's there's other costs to from working from home. That I know some companies offer stipends for but you know, you're paying for your own internet, you're paying your own power. There different costs when you're at home where, you know, even your water bill, you know, you'd be using more of the company's resources. Were you in an office?
Ryan Purvis 4:59
Yeah, exactly. Did I remember when I was working for the company was now it's kind of my head. And the we got a small allocation per month to internet for internet for sort of home office work. It wasn't a lot. I mean, it might have been $50. And you know, for a lot of us and I spoke to you guys about it for a lot of us it was more than tension as opposed to covering the bills. Because the company offered to cover those that those will give you an allowance. You're almost more supportive of the omo loyalty organization. And I think that's it. Yeah, I don't think so. Okay.
Heather Bicknell 5:43
No, you're fine. I'm getting, I have a little bit of a lag. So I think I i sorry, I want to talk a real Oh, good. I mean, I think yeah, this was just a I wonder if any of those, those major companies who were kind of called out in that survey will actually do anything with this information. I mean, I think the worst lesson you could possibly take away from it is we can just pay our employees significant amount less, because they'll choose the flexibility. But of course, there's, you know, different trade offs now that people might make.
Ryan Purvis 6:21
Yeah, so so anecdotally, and I've, I've seen this in a few groups that I mean, people are saying that if a company is going to force them to work in the office five days a week, they're gonna look for another job. Or they're gonna work, you know, they could only look for jobs where with some level of remoteness is acceptable. Or it's part of the deal. I'm not saying that people shouldn't go into the office, I think there's a need to see and meet people and talk to them. And, you know, whether if it's one day, a week, two days a week, or three days a week, or even a case of a five day a week, you know, when the circumstances warranted, then you do it. But I think the the factory mindset that you've got to be in the office nine to five every day, or eight for whatever the terms are, I think that for most jobs, most knowledge worker jobs, you know, that's, that's a very bad old way of thinking that we have ever spoken about the book people were, I think so I need to I need to get a copy of that to you to read I don't know if it's, I don't know if it's digital left have already sent you a paper paper version. But it's a very interesting book written, I want to say in the 80s. But, uh, but it goes through all these things in, I can't remember if I've ever read this book in 15 years. But it's kind of in my head as a reference book. It talks about that they explore these things like open plan working, why that's a bad idea. Why people need officers, not necessarily their own office, but but a shared office, or maybe three or four people. Yes, try to find the balance between collaboration and with quiet time to do work, and how certain roles in knowledge work and need to have quiet time. And I mean, this and this comes back to kind of what I think I were when I responded to on the LinkedIn poll, is that you know, people are adults treat them like adults. It's, it should be about results. And, you know, if they want to work at home for two days to write a document and be offline, let them do that. But then if they need to be in the office to talk to people, let them do that to, you know, let them all work it out. As adults do. I think a lot of these rules and sort of pressures are our back to school. It's of providing a structure and you have to be in, in class on time, and all that kind of stuff. And I think that doesn't work productivity or improving productive I think it's, she takes away and I know when I work when I work in an office, I really struggled to get work done. Because of the distractions.
Heather Bicknell 9:07
Yeah, kind of hit me yesterday, I was like, Oh, yeah, if I go back to the office, I'm going to be missing. It's going to just be noisier just naturally no matter what. And I really value silence I think is sort of an underrated thing to have in your environment while you're working, not having being able to overhear all these coworker conversations or someone's phone goes off or anything like that. It just breaks your flow.
Ryan Purvis 9:38
Yeah, those are my big issues that you turn to work on something and then you've got someone coming past your desk 10 times. You know, you get a lot of people across your desk to talk to you or they will pass you this because on the way past you and and that sort of distracts me now it's funny if I'm sitting in a coffee shop, that wouldn't bug me. But I think it's because I don't I don't know the person will looking past me in the coffee shops, I don't care, they're walking past me. Whereas if it's colleague walking past me, you know, it's almost like proactive visible or awareness or something to say, Oh, this person is coming past, maybe they need me to, to help them or something or talk to them about something or whatever it is. And that sets me off to distraction path, which is the ADHD that I have looked for that kind of stuff.
Heather Bicknell 10:24
I find too, that with a coffee shop, you know, it's kind of low murmur. There's multiple conversations happening. And yeah, most of the time, everyone's complete stranger. But if you're in the office, and there's just like two people talking, I find it really hard not to like, like, your brain just wants to listen to that one conversation.
Ryan Purvis 10:43
Yeah, especially as I mentioned, a word that relates to you somehow. Then you've got Yeah, yeah. And then you're, then you sort of get sucked into to being an unwilling participant? Yeah. What was the What was your thoughts on? I mean, you you actually quite lucky, I think, in a sense, because you work. You know, literally, a couple blocks away from your office.
Heather Bicknell 11:10
Yeah, so I mean, I purposefully have sort of taken the commute element out for myself, just because I know a well, first of all, we don't have good public transportation, where I am. So I could, you know, there's, there's a bus system, but it would take me very long time to get anywhere. And then, you know, something like an Uber or whatnot would be terribly expensive to rely on all the time. So I just don't enjoy driving stressful downtown parking, and then started my day off like that. So I've purposefully chosen to live within walking distance of my office. And we actually just bought a house, which is so within walking distance of 39. Thank you. Yeah, so moving July, which is very exciting.
Unknown Speaker 12:02
Heather Bicknell 12:05
so I don't have that element of the commute is it hasn't been as big for me. I mean, honestly, it was like, my, it was a little bit of exercise. So I don't really mind the walking commute. But I think all of the elements of just, you know, having the flexibility, and it's not. I don't have as many sort of considerations, a lot of people with families or kind of other scheduling things, but you know, just being around my cats more, they enjoyed that. Being able to do little things around the house if I need to, I don't do too much of that. But you know, being here, if a package gets delivered, or, you know, if I do need to go to a doctor's appointment or something like that, I feel like there's a little bit more flexibility there. So, yeah, I mean, I would like to continue to work at least partially, remotely, but still not sure where that's going to shake out for us. So our state is doing a sort of an interesting way to incentivize people to get vaccinated. So there are different states are doing different things. Ohio, which is just south of us is they're raffling off, like a million dollars to whoever many people get out of whatever population gets the vaccine every day or something like that. So you could literally go get your shot and be like, a lottery winner. So some states are doing that just like raw, you know, play the numbers, different things to get people to get their shots and our state is doing a if the population hits x percentage vaccinated, then we'll do this again. So the first thing to reopen is, once we have 55% vaccination, you can go back to the office, which is which happened, at least for first dose. So we now I think it's legal for everyone to go if they want if the company does it, to reopen the office. So I think it'll be very interesting to see in the next weeks and months. What starts to happen there in the state, I don't know. But it's it's it's it's feeling pretty near nearer term than it was a few months or even weeks ago.
Ryan Purvis 14:35
Yeah, I think this is the sort of gamification we were talking about yesterday with the vaccine passports. Would you have to have would you be allowed to travel if you had another vaccine, and we'll even get down to the point of would you realize travel if you had a certain vaccine, so if you had the Pfizer went over the whoever it is, whenever, whenever, that's my fix Customer Madonna we're doing that's it. I was actually a customer. And and I think there's there's a need in some senses to incentivize people to have that have the vaccine. I mean, I think it's a personal choice in the end, I mean, we will probably have it because if we want to ever go back to the UK, we'll need to have in order to enter, I think we'll have to add the vaccine. But because we might not get the one that the UK wants us to have, we might need a variant have to fix it. But that's, that's a bit unclear at this stage. But I think there's a, I think this comes down to doing the right thing for the right reasons. I don't think we'll ever reach herd immunity. But I think if you can get the population or the majority of the population to the same basic safe level, which is what the vaccines are doing, they're not going to stop you getting COVID, but they're going to reduce the symptoms or reduce the transmission. The same way we handle flu, the flu vaccine. That's good for everyone, generally speaking. So, so I can see where they where they're coming from with with pushing it up pushing it forward.
Heather Bicknell 16:09
Yeah, there's just a lot of different reasons that people are holdouts. And I think there's, there's certainly a percentage of the population and I think it tends to skew but younger, that's just like, well, I probably won't die from it. You know, I, you know, maybe I'll get it someday, but I'm not going to make the time to go get it. But you know, if they hear that can get a million dollars, then.
Ryan Purvis 16:33
Well, that makes sense. Yeah. You know, I'm totally on board of that. I mean, so it's I've just had one of my staff. She's, she's just come back to work. Now. She's been out for about a month. I think she's about 30. And, and she really took it hard in the sense that she was an ICU and all that kind of stuff. Yeah. So I don't think anyone should ever be like with any disease, I don't think should ever take it lightly.
Heather Bicknell 16:58
He said, but a lot of people do. Yeah.
Ryan Purvis 17:03
So I guess. I mean, you can't, you can't tell people what to think. And you shouldn't tell me what to think. But you do wish that the people like that. And I've got one in my family who completely believes this is all conspiracy and all the rest of it. You just you just hope that they don't put themselves in harm's way because of it. Yeah. Cause what was the other link that I sent you?
Heather Bicknell 17:31
That was the I think we need this. Now. This is kind of on the opposite end of the spectrum. This is talking about why we need more humor at work. It was a McKinsey interview of a couple of Stanford professors talking about humor at work.
Ryan Purvis 17:51
Yeah, well, I think so. So we've we've talked to people on this podcast where they've mentioned having specific meetings to lighten the mood or, or break the monotony. And we This came for, for me is, you know, we're trying to, we've just obviously done a big rollout of a new interface. And Galia guys have been working really hard. So they've been really stressed. So it's just to bring some enjoyment back into the to the team. So that article just popped up following up on the same day that I was having those discussions with, with my exec which might be Facebook, or whoever, whoever's monitoring me helping me with this content, who knows. But I thought it was quite apt.
Heather Bicknell 18:44
Yeah, I think what they, it's interesting that they tied it to, I think, ultimately kind of profitability, they were showing that if you inject some humor, and you don't even have to actually be good at telling jokes, even just the sort of attempt to sort of lighten the mood, even if they're like the worst dad jokes on the planet, you know, something that everyone would just grow. And after you set a terrible pattern or something like that, it can still, I think, just kind of put people at ease and improve things like productivity and engagement. And, yeah, it's actually that's really kind of the interesting part. Here it says leaders with a sense of humor, are 27% more motivating and inspiring. their employees are 15% more engaged and their teams are twice as creative. Those are some promising numbers.
Ryan Purvis 19:43
Well, if you go to any, any good, you should book The first thing there is about being vulnerable. And nothing makes you more humble or vulnerable than making a bad joke and no one laughed at it and then when wearing that mustard wearing that as well. So while that wasn't a good one, I'll take that off the list but You know, I find in a lot of circumstances, because you are typically a leader, people are guarded, often to begin with till they get to know you. And any way you can break down those guard those guard mechanisms, the better your team cohesion will be.
Heather Bicknell 20:20
Yeah, they they sort of pointed out as well, that the style of humor that's most effective varies on your kind of seniority and role. So for example, if you're a sea level at a company, if you, you know, punch down with your humor and make fun of employees below you, that you're, you know, you're probably going to come across like a jerk, there was an example they had of a CEO who had, you know, fired one of their VPS, and then came back to this meeting, and things were really tense. So he tried to defuse it by making a joke about the woman he just fired, which didn't land particularly well with that audience. So if you're in one of those leadership roles, having some self deprecating humor is more well received. versus if you're a junior role, it's okay to sell some self deprecating jokes. But if you're self deprecating all the time, it can actually make people sort of like you don't want to take away authority from yourself because you're always making jokes about yourself either.
Ryan Purvis 21:26
So it was interesting to how they kind of broke down, you know, where you are in the Oregon your career, you might want to kind of stay away from different kinds of humor for a while. So like, I've made some Freudian mistakes in my life, one of which are still I speak to the golfer and I still apologize to every time I see him. And it's, it's where your your personal jokes like on the golf course, overlap with your professional life, sometimes. There wasn't, it was a golfing joke, not a joke. But there was like a one liner that I had used, which I shouldn't have used. It happens slick, I, we've all got them. And we've all done them. I had a boss who used to think that he was he was warning friends when he insulted someone in the team. And then that night in the pub, everyone was saying, here's what I need to do. Why do you do that? So it can happen to all of us. And I guess someone's got to give you feedback in a way that you take it on board.
Heather Bicknell 22:23
Yeah, I think it just goes to show that humor can be a really good tool for both leadership and team building. But you have to do it the right way. Otherwise, it'll have the X or the opposite effects.
Ryan Purvis 22:40
Exactly. It's time and a place in a context.
Heather Bicknell 22:45
Another element that I thought was interesting is they said it can even help you close a sale. So just and then a lot of these jokes. So the example that they gave at the end of a sales pitch to say something like this is my final offer. And I'll throw in my pet frog, which, you know, that's not like a hilarious thing. But it's kind of like unexpected, right? So you can see how it would catch someone in the moment. Yeah, and they found, I guess, if you inject some humor, that it can get you an 18% higher price point in a sale. So I mean, you have to be careful with it. But it certainly seems like a powerful tool. I think something that, you know, a lot of business interactions could use some more levity and some Yeah, some being personal without, you know, being totally unprofessional.
Ryan Purvis 23:42
Yeah, I mean, you've got to, I mean, we've got to always be careful political correctness. Well, I kind of stuff but, but humor is probably the best thing for for most situations. I mean, if you remember challenger from friends, you know, the more serious the conversation, the more jokes he made. Of course, you've got to have a balance that you don't be, you'd want to lose your credibility. But what I liked about that, that article, which which you've mentioned is, sometimes it's a small thing that gets you the greatest value, as opposed to trying to come up as a stand up comedian. And really, not only that, it all
Heather Bicknell 24:19
makes me think of I can't remember who This quote is from, but people will forget what you said, but they'll never forget how you made them feel. And I had some, like funny coworkers in the past, some of whom have even like, had backgrounds as comedians, and you know, even if they didn't, if I if I like if I clicked with that person's humor, I do so miss having them around in the office, and I think like, little you know, you definitely notice those people along your career who have that skill of kind of bringing everyone together, something funny. And that it does kind of just like leave you with that warm feeling?
Ryan Purvis 25:03
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I do need to drop off. I've got another caller started. Was that the last one? It was Yeah. Good. Okay. I couldn't even remember saying that, to be honest. But I was I was probably in the moment. This is a good one for Heather. That's cool.
Heather Bicknell 25:22
I said, Well, have a good rest of your day and happy birthday.
Ryan Purvis 25:26
Thanks. Good to chat to you, says, bye. Bye. Thank you for listening today's episode of The Big news app producer, editor. Thank you, Heather. for your hard work on this episode. Please subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the DW w podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on the website WWW dot digital workspace works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace works and subscribe to our newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends or colleagues.
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