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.