The Surefire Way To Be Happier At Work: Chat With Your Coworkers

A new study finds that people really are pretty miserable at work, and not much you can do will help. But there is one pretty easy fix: your coworkers.

You’re probably miserable at work, and eating that coffee cake somebody brought in won’t help. Nor will texting, reading, doing your finances, or browsing the Internet. But it’s OK. The answer is in the cubicle right beside you.

According to a new study (PDF) 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 article:

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, say happiness isn’t your chief goal, but you’d like to cut the cortisol a bit through a lower stress work environment. The answer to that?

It is those who manage to combine working with "Watching TV, film’ who are most relaxed.

As you might expect, the study doesn’t take into account your chances of getting a raise, a promotion or, you know, generally not being fired for catching up on Dexter instead of doing your job. But previous research has found that some lucky jerks really do skate by at work. So your best, most productive defense may be just to huddle up around the water cooler and mock them.

Read more here (PDF).

[Hat tip: WSJ]

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  • Vinod

    All the other activities they have used to compare working do not have any explicit expectations set like in a work environment. Bird watching?? - is someone paying you to do it? No. Work, yes, someone is paying you. It is a transaction where you are answerable. Bird watching  - you are not answerable to anyone.  That list itself is biased.

  • Cari Turley

    I wonder if that takes into account the introverts who would rather not be social during working hours. So many well-intentioned open office plans were built so people could socialize, but for an introvert, it can be a productivity (and happiness)-killing nightmare.

  • Eric Duey

    Also the fortunate few who can take their dog to work see significant benefits. Wish that was a more common option at employers...