I spend a lot of time on this blog talking about making happy, playful spaces. But in the end the most important thing to making a space playful and happy is the people that fill that space.
According to a new study by Alex Bryson and George MacKerron, published through the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics and Political Science, of all the things we choose to do at work (other than work!), it’s casually interacting with our colleagues that makes us happiest. From the study: The largest positive net effect of combining work and another activity on happiness relates to ‘Talking, chatting, socialising’. . . . There are clearly positive psychological benefits of being able to socialise whilst working. It is the only activity that, in combination with working, results in happiness levels that are similar to those experienced when not working.
Now, according to this same study they found the strongest correlation between reducing stress and working was watching videos (film, TV), which indicates to me the study may not be the most robust, but to be fair other studies have found a strong correlation between watching cute things and destressing and an increase in the ability to concentrate, so if these study participants were watching cute puppies and kittens then that makes perfect sense.
I certainly know that having good coworkers makes a huge difference in how much I enjoy my work (and lucky for me I’ve got great coworkers!)
What do you think? Does your personal work happiness depend on your coworkers? Share your work stories in the comments below.
From the blog How Do you Landscape; a group from the UK has created an app that can be used to measure our happiness based on our surroundings, and using maps to look at the data:
“People feel better outside than inside”. “People feel better in the park/woods/nature than in the city”. These are some of the conclusions from a project with the telling title ‘Mappiness’ Good news for landscape and Landscape Architecture on first sight. But are these only one-liners or firmly based scientific statements? Well, that depends on the quality of the empirical evidence of course. Most experience sample methods (ESM) have a hard time getting a representative group (in the end almost only colleagues) that has to struggle trough tedious interview forms (“it will take only twenty minutes”) to step-by-step end up with modest results. How about a sample group of 47.331 people (and growing by the day) who willingly support their data three times a day to the researchers that by now collected over three million forms in a few months? I stumbled upon these remarkable Experience research feats in a TedxBrighton 2011. In this “Twenty minutes lecture” George MacKerron explains why and how he and Susana Mourato (both from the Department of Geography & Environment at the London School of Economics and Political Science) created ‘mappiness’. They want to better understand how people’s feelings are affected by features of their current environment. Things like air pollution, noise, and green spaces influence your well being is their hypothesis.
This is how it works. They developed an app that can be downloaded for free. It must be one of the most irritating apps around on the web because it rings you (with your approval, you can influence the settings) three times a day to ask you three simple questions.
When put through a big regression model they can gauge the happiness as the function of habitat type, activity, companionship, weather conditions (there is of course a link between meteorological data and the GPS data), daylight conditions, location type (in, out, home, work, etc), ambient noise level, time of the day, response speed, and individual ‘fixed-effects’ (that come out of your personal Mappiness-history). Factors can be plotted out against each other.
How awesome is that? What a neat piece of technology to measure our surroundings and how they influence us!