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Why make more room for joy at work?

What pops into your mind when you think about work?


I’m guessing it’s words like project, boss, meetings, or deadlines. Or maybe a mental image of sitting at a desk with a laptop and a large cup of coffee.


If I were a betting woman (which I am not), I would wager that the word “joy” is not among them.


In fact, let me ask you another question: when was the last time you actually felt joy in your job?


I don’t mean a fleeting “hooray, we met that deadline!” or a shared laugh over your team’s inside joke. I mean real joy that grounds you in the present to celebrate feelings of fulfillment and connection. And maybe even some laughter.


This shouldn’t be a hard question. Sure, work tends to fall more on the “have to do” end of the spectrum (as opposed to “want to do”), but many of us have jobs that are at least somewhat meaningful to us, where we are surrounded by people with whom we share both that connection to the meaning of the work and a desire to succeed.


There is a truly baffling notion out there that work has to be all serious, all the time. That joy and laughter distract from productivity and efficiency.


That mentality might work for robots, but it’s antithetical to humanity.




Humans Need Joy


As social animals, our evolutionary existence quite literally depends on us forging strong bonds with each other to find food, maintain fire, and overcome hardships. This need for social skills and emotional connection is the reason why human brains are so massive in proportion to our body size, as compared with other mammals.


Sadly, most of today’s jobs leave very little room for social and emotional experience. (Don’t worry — I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole of blaming late-stage capitalism, the extreme application of the Protestant work ethic, and faulty post-Industrial Revolution models of workplace efficiency. Not in this post, at least.)


Why Joy Is Missing at Work


We spend most of our time at work staring at a screen, using software designed to “optimize efficiency” and track our every output. When we interact with colleagues, it’s usually in the context of a very specific task. Even our meetings are usually structured so that one or two people talk at everyone else, rather than fostering real conversation.


Whether we agree with it or not, most of us live by the mantra “time is money,” and therefore consider everything we do through a lens of productivity and efficiency.


It’s hard to experience joy when we’re under that kind of pressure, and in an environment that makes social and emotional connection difficult.





We Bring More Joy to Work


At Barometer XP, we reject this short-sighted mentality.


We believe that joy should be a regular occurrence at work, not because (or not only because) joy feels good, but because joy is a much better motivator in the long run.


Joy sparks curiosity, which is essential for innovation.


Joy catalyzes interdependence, which is critical for the interdisciplinary collaboration needed to solve difficult problems.


And joy leads to empathy and trust, which are required ingredients for psychological safety and belonging.


How can we help you infuse more joy into your work?


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