Profits go up when you let your Hair Down!
It’s a cold and dreary winters’ afternoon. Drizzle runs down the window panes. The last of the M&S cookies has been munched and the cruddiest of love songs is whimpering away pitifully on the radio. But you can’t even be bothered to change it. And then PING, a belly-hugging, stitch-inducing email flies onto your screen. The day’s looking up!
Your oldest (and slightly off-the-wall) best friend has sent you a song in which all the lyrics have been changed to incorporate people you were at school with, as well as annoying teachers.
Bear with. Bear with.
I was going to grace you with said friend’s reincarnation of The Scissor Sister’s ‘Don’t Feel Like Dancin’’. But then I realised it may not be as funny to you as it was to me. Obviously you won’t have firsthand experience of these particular characters, or any reason to laugh about the hilarity of mixing and matching them. But imagine if somebody jiggled with a song that was personal to you…
Alannis Morrisette’s ‘Jagged Little Pill’ with the cast from your former work place.
Katy Perry’s ‘Eye of The Tiger’ with the crew from your estranged side of the family.
Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ featuring the group of bullies who used to corner you every day as you walked home from school.
Now imagine you currently work in an office where most people won’t even look up to say ‘hello’ when you make your entrée for another day of drudgery. And now let’s take our imaginations up to yet another notch of fun; this is an office where other than the aforementioned low whimper of the radio, it is so quiet that you could almost hear a pin drop.
How embarrassing is it going to be if you can’t help yourself and burst into pig style chortles in front of your stiff upper lipped seniors? Imagine everyone staring and just not getting it. Doesn’t that make it even funnier?NB. Lyrics always to be adapted within a max of five minutes, making them even more pathetic.
Utterly ridiculous and pretty childish I know, but you want to know what happened after I’d mimed about Mr Blair-not-being-able-to-keep-up-when-a-game-of-spin-the-bottle’s-the-only-thing-he’d-lose (other than having to scrape myself up off the floor because I had turned into a giggling drunkard)? My mountain of an in-tray magically went down. And I don’t mean just by a few token papers either.
I dare you to try it.
Because it’s a proven fact: Laughter increases productivity, reduces tensions between employees and enhances creativity. Studies have shown this. A little release of office LOL from the pit of the belly and suddenly we are all whizzing around, vibing high and getting stuff done in harmony. It might seem au contraire to our societal beliefs about effort and hard work, but the only way to get real results is with a fit or two of laughter. And so I took Anna’s approach even further and made it my own.
The following year when I was running my own department – which was more of a teenage bedroom on the top floor of the building and smothered with Leonardo Dicaprio posters to deter loitering male bosses – we’d light joss sticks and meditate on a Monday morning. It was never a very serious affair, just a group ‘imagine if’ session where we’d sit in a circle, calm ourselves, visualise and affirm the sales we wanted to manifest that week. I swear the fax machine was doing overtime by the afternoon. Yes, if you can have that weekly laughter en masse, so much quicker the results.
It won’t take too much imagination to picture us on a Wednesday afternoon either when we’d conduct the weekly Work In Progress meeting complete with a box of chocolates, disco music and an actual whip (the latter wasn’t my idea by the way). And then on Fridays we’d mix it up with a game of consequences. Remember playing that at school and surreptitiously passing paper concertinas around the table to your mates dreading the fact that if you were caught the teacher read the whole spiel out to the class and then the pin up would know you fancied him? Well, believe me you can take that to a whole new level in the work place…
And I haven’t even mentioned the time we took said meeting to the dizzying heights of the Hop On Hop Off city tour around Bath (the buses departed just outside our office). Or the secret passage – which isn’t so secret anymore because I am ever so slightly letting the cat out of the bag – which led from the vaults of our office building to the park. Oh those summer meetings when our lovely receptionist gave us a nudge and a wink as she handed us the key and we scurried under the road and through the tunnel to Narnia (aka stripy deckchairs overlooking the bandstand and the ice cream stall.) Never has a meeting been more blissful than in the sunshine listening to a brass band and gorging upon Mr Whippys.
So maybe I have always had a slightly unconventional imagination. My sister and I weren’t so much playing board games and watching television in our early teens, as cutting up paper rectangles containing the names of everybody in our school year and putting them into various scenarios; The Coach Trip to Paignton (who’s going to snog who?), The School Disco (who’s going to dance with who?). We won’t go any further with that game.
So maybe I am a little daft. Okay. Very.
But I remain stubbornly convinced that as adults we have so much to learn from children. Play improves mental health, relationships and our outlook on life. And if laughter comes with it – well d’oh, that’s like asking if wine goes with cheese! – so much the better.