Besides bringing you yesterday's news tomorrow, we here at Guru want to do our part to help make the lives of Bangkokians better. But unfortunately our repeated requests to implement a zero-day work week and make every hour a Happy Hour have been ignored.
So although reality prevents us from frolicking around all day because money doesn't grow in rice paddies and jobs are necessary for many of us, luckily a whole bunch of research has been conducted with the aim of figuring out how to improve happiness and productivity at work.
And even luckier for you, because I squander away most of my time doing everything but my actual work, I stumbled upon a gem of an article during my extensive hours spent on the internet looking at pictures of cute animals hugging.
The article in question was published last week in the New York Times and is entitled "Relax! You'll be More Productive" by Tony Schwartz. You could just Google it and read it yourself because it's better written than anything I could attempt to paraphrase here.
But because one requirement of my job is filling up this space with a minimum of 600 words, I'll just keep rambling about the findings of this inspiring article until you get fed up with me and decide to go read the original.
Citing various studies, the gist of the article states that employees basically need to chill out to do better work. This means doing things like taking naps at the office, exercising during the day, taking frequent vacations and getting more than six hours of sleep each night. Sure, this all sounds like common sense, but how many of us actually do it for fear of getting fired when our boss catches us sleeping under our desk?
Even more interestingly, the article also cites a study at Florida State University that found that employees are most productive when they work at 90-minute intervals. The reason for this is that our body apparently wavers between being energetic and fatigued every 90 minutes, which is a signal that we should take a break. But again, when you have a deadline looming, how many of us actually do it for fear of getting reprimanded when our boss catches us gossiping around the water cooler every hour-and-a-half?
While any employee could tell you that sleep deprivation, fatigue and feeling burned out is a normal part of the job, I like that there's a whole body of evidence that's finally taking a stand and saying, "No! This is not a normal part of the job! Now get out of the office and go have fun!" Who doesn't appreciate research that actually encourages us to take longer and more frequent vacations?
Of course, these findings have to be tweaked and applied based on the nature of a job. I'm sure the bartender who has to deal with me on Friday nights wishes he could take a break from me every 90 minutes (or less), but alas his job is to deal with thirsty (and rowdy) people. And while the article encourages the "more than one-third of employees [who] eat lunch at their desk on a regular basis" to actually leave the office for their meals, this kind of finding doesn't seem relevant in Thai offices where lunchtime is more important than brokering a deal with a multimillion baht firm.
But what we can take from this is that we as employees have the right to stand up for ourselves and let our companies know what we need; whether that's a massage room, mandatory beer on Fridays, or a shopping mall built within the office, we can be happier as a result.
OK, now that I have surpassed the 600 words necessary for this column, I think science demands that I should relax and get back to looking at pictures of cute animals hugging. But hey, if you're still stuck at your desk working, don't worry; I'll leave you with this image of two pandas hugging because it can make anyone happy. G
About the author
- Writer: Sumati Sivasiamphai
Position: Guru Editor