Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

The pursuit of happiness may be an inalienable right but should it be the purpose of work in general or workspace in particular? Perhaps so, if the conclusions drawn from a variety of recent studies on the subject are to be believed.

 

The prevailing theory suggests that a happy worker is an engaged worker. An engaged worker is a productive one. So the idea of adding a “Chief Happiness Officer” to the C-Suite is actually all about the bottom line. Productivity is notoriously difficult to measure (certainly in real time) but making people happy is something that we, in workspace, could perhaps focus on each day and wait for the profits to soar…

 

There are a number of problems with this though. “Happiness” is actually a direct manifestation of a number of chemicals in the body (notably serotonin, oxytocin and dopamine). Like most biological traits they are normally distributed. This means that some people are naturally happy a lot more than others, and there is not a lot that we could or should do to try and get everyone to the same level. For one thing people’s serotonin levels return to normal after any stimulus (e.g. winning the lottery makes you happy for a while but won’t last forever). In any case, there are many people in any organisation that do a fantastic job without strutting around like they are in the Disney Parade.

 

Everyone has an optimal level of serotonin etc and an average number of smiles per day that makes them work the best way that they can, and it’s as individual as a fingerprint. Making everyone more happy than they need to be is not something that we can necessarily achieve, but what we can do is focus on things that make them drop below that level. It may not be one thing on it’s own; the office is too hot, too noisy, the coffee sucks etc, but everyone has their own list of bugbears that together could lead to disengagement. The key role that workspace can play is to quickly identify the links in these chains and to remove them as soon as possible.

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Alan Rose

Alan Rose is a Director at CADM, a leading UK-based workspace software provider. He is a qualified software engineer with over 25 years of experience in designing, developing and implementing computer systems for Real Estate and Built Environment applications. Primarily working with blue chip clients worldwide in both the private and public sectors.