The business of happiness

Being happy at work seems to be an exception, not a rule, so what can we do as businesses to help make our people more happy and productive?

Workplace happiness. It conjures images of office dogs, dress down Fridays and a Christmas party. But in reality, how happy we are in our jobs boils down to more than just perks. Because while wearing a t-shirt on a Friday is a nice perk, it doesn’t really impact the 7.5 hours a day you spend working.

Many businesses are starting to introduce tools and initiatives to promote wellbeing and happiness in the workplace. This includes anything from stress management seminars, early finishes on Fridays and creating an agile working environment.

But what people really need to make their days easy, productive and stress-free is the flexibility that comes from great tech. According to the workplace happiness report by OfficeGenie, people are worried about a few very specific things. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of UK employees experience stress related to their jobs. Here’s a breakdown of what adds to it:

Stress factors

“I have a lack of control over my role.” – sound familiar? 25% of people are stressed out daily because of this lack of control.

“I feel I am overwhelmed.” – a huge 47% of people feel overwhelmed at work, which could be attributed to workloads, lack of support or lack of the right technology.

So now we know what stresses people out, here’s what motivates them and helps them feel happier at work:

  • Flexible hours (33%)
  • Remote working (16%)
  • More control over workload (12%)
  • Better work environment (12%)


The Case for Workplace Happiness

Happiness is a concept that’s difficult to pin down. A lot of people have had a go at trying to define it, like Sonja Lyubomirsky, positive psychology researcher, who created a formula in her book ‘The How of Happiness’.

She thinks that 60% of our happiness is pre-determined by genes and circumstances, so we have the chance to affect the remaining 40%  with our daily activities and choices. For most people, most of that 40% is spent at work. To make the most of that time we need to find a way of helping people be at their collaborative and productive best.

Happiness in the workplace means people are more likely to be creative problem solvers and look beyond the issues immediately in front of them. If all you can think about is how the slow broadband connection is making you want to throw your laptop out of the window, then chances are you won’t have the extra brainpower to innovate and discover new solutions. The big picture can only be seen when your frame of reference shows more than an immediate negative reality.

For small businesses, who often begin with smaller workspaces, less staff and more intense workloads, it’s crucial to get the balance right. One unhappy colleague can disproportionately impact on a close-knit culture.

Does flexibility equal happiness?

Two things are inevitable in business: a constant influx of new technology and new recruits. The current crop of people joining the workforce are generally digitally minded. They’ve know-how to integrate it in their personal and working lives, and can find it frustrating to work with old or outdated technology. Now is the time to look at different options, like upgrading your tech so it’s mobile and digital first.

Ultimately, it boils down to providing the technology people need to work the way that makes them happy. For digital natives, this means a smartphone, a laptop and a strong Wi-Fi or data connection. And when you provide people with mobile technology, let them use it the way that helps them be productive. Being chained to a desk all day isn’t going to inspire anyone, especially someone who might see this as an old-fashioned way of working. Instead give people the freedom to work how they want, collaborate freely and use tech to improve everything in their day.

A cheaper alternative to recycling your existing technology and starting again from scratch is to supplement your upgrades with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, which basically means employees can use their own devices at work. There are pros to this, such as taking the pressure off your budget and getting devices people are already familiar with.

However, many people who go down this route forget to look at the potential danger zones – what happens to the data on your employee’s phone or laptop your employee leaves your business? And even fewer people consider the security implications of having business data on devices that are used out of the office and likely on unsecured networks.

This blend of work and play is only one of the best ways to keep digitally minded people engaged. Play to their strengths and in return, they’ll strengthen your business.

Essential collaboration tools

Zoom: all-in-one collaboration that offers video and web conferencing solutions, including cross-platform instant messaging and file sharing.

Slack: send messages and files to anyone, organise conversations by project or job role, video-calling, and is even compatible with services like Google Drive, Dropbox and Box.

Podio: not only does podio have project management tools, it also features an intranet, and is expandable with new collaboration tools through an app store – perfect for entrepreneurs who need to scale.

Essential efficiency tools

TeamViewer: Allows your team to provide remote access to help solve problems when working off-site.

DeskAway: Secure and password protected chat rooms using browsers.

Blinkist: “Blinkist offers nonfiction books that are packed into 15-minute lessons,” just log into the app and either read or listen. It’s one of the most efficient ways to upskill employees.
Workplace happiness is something that will affect all of us. Whether you’re an employee or a business owner, it’s possible to combine technology with smart thinking to become more efficient, productive and above all happier.