When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Already a subscriber? Log in .

You've reached your limit of one free article.

Get unlimited access to Worldcrunch

You can cancel anytime .


Exclusive International news coverage

Ad-free experience NEW

Weekly digital Magazine NEW

9 daily & weekly Newsletters

Access to Worldcrunch archives

Free trial

30-days free access, then $2.90
per month.

Annual Access BEST VALUE

$19.90 per year, save $14.90 compared to monthly billing.save $14.90.

Subscribe to Worldcrunch

The Many Benefits Of Joking On The Job

Case in point: This picture is a joke
Case in point: This picture is a joke
Angélique Mangon


PARIS — It's a company like any other, in the 11th arrondissement of Paris. Except that in the BeMyApp offices, you'll hear a dinosaur screech and a stream of puns. Jokes that fail to get a laugh are taxed. Employees and managers put 20 cents in a jar. It's the "bad joke tax."

"Me, personally, I'm very funny, so I never pay," jokes John Karp, one of the founders of this event planning company that regularly organizes hackathons. Here, the 30 Parisian employees work in a relaxed atmosphere, where communication and laughter are omnipresent.

Alexandre Sutra, who has worked here for four years, feels so good at BeMyApp that he regularly imitates a velociraptor — much to the amusement of his colleagues. "I used to work in an agency with a manager who gave me a hard time. I feel a lot more satisfied today," the event planner says. David Autissier, an associate professor at the Paris-Est-Créteil university and co-author of the book Petit traité de l'humour au travail (small treatise on humor at work), sees the pro-laughter policies in places like BeMyApp as part of an overall trend that emphasizes people's well-being at work. "Humor helps people strengthen social bonds and improves atmospheres within companies," he says.

A good atmosphere is itself a good environment for laughter, Autissier explains. It's a virtuous circle, in other words, that reinforces team cohesion and employee motivation."Laughter, by breaking down formalities, helps people access ideas they may have thought were stupid, but aren't necessarily. It boosts creativity," says Serge Grudzinski, founder of Humor Consulting Group, a laughter-in-the-workplace speciality firm.

Another company keen to promote laughter is Swiper, a start-up. "When people sulk, it doesn't make you want to go to work, whereas if employees feel good, they will be happy and motivated to develop projects together," says William Tarnowski, one of the founders. Here, the four employees work on the same level as the two managers.

Employees at the start-up often put in long hours — all the more reason why humor matters. "When we work until late in the evening, a good fit of laughter enables us to take a break. And it motivates the team. We get back to work with more energy and we get things done faster. It's a lot better than a cup of coffee," Tarnowski says.

[rebelmouse-image 27090172 alt="""" original_size="400x300" expand=1]

Colleagues laughing together — Photo: Richard foster

At BeMyApp, humor is also used to convey messages that aren't always amusing. "To announce to someone that they'll have to work this weekend, or when assigning someone a new task, John, the manager, often comes with a big smile and says, "Hey, what are you doing this weekend?' or ‘I have a great mission for you,"" says Alexandre Sutra.

In this company, workplace frustrations aren't seen as failures, but as experiences that make things move forward. Laugther helps the process by defusing certain situations. "When you find yourselves in a real stalemate, joking sometimes helps you take a step back," says John Karp.

In these companies, laughter is part of a whole, of a working atmosphere where communication, exchange and kindness are essential. When he co-founded Linkbynet, in 2000, Patrick Aisenberg wanted to establish this kind of relaxed, but also hard-working state of mind. And he committed to maintaining that conviviality even as the computer management services company grew. Today, it has 650 employees, including 250 at the head offices, in Saint-Denis, near Paris.

Aisenberg still keeps his office in the same area as the other employees, and goes to great lengths to ensure their mental well-being: hammocks to rest, a pool table, a dart set, a ping pong table to relax — even a slide to go down from one story to another. "The manager sets the tone," he says. "I always joke, for example, before kicking off a meeting. It puts the employees at ease."

But don't just take the boss' word for it. "We organize Nerf fights or races up the slide," says Sébastien Moriceau, a longtime employee of Linkbynet. "It doesn't prevent us from working. Quite the opposite really."

Humor may be a resource managers can use, but it also has to be used with a level of measure and moderation. "It's important that things don't delve into teasing. Laughter must remain benevolent," says Serge Grudzinski. Linkbynet's Aisenberg agrees. "We allow teasing, but only for small things. We don't make fun of people."

It's also important to recognize that laughter isn't always appropriate. "I think joking is most relevant in non-tense situations, because in situations of crisis, it can have the opposite effect," says David Autissier.

All jokes aside, there will always be moments when work is no laughing matter.

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Black Sea Survivor: Tale Of A Ukrainian Special Agent Thrown Overboard In Enemy Waters

This is a tale of a Ukrainian special forces operator who wound up surviving 14 hours at sea, staying afloat and dodging Russian air and sea patrols.

Black Sea Survivor: Tale Of A Ukrainian Special Agent Thrown Overboard In Enemy Waters

Looking at the Black Sea in Odessa, Ukraine.

Rustem Khalilov and Roksana Kasumova

KYIV — During a covert operation in the Black Sea, a Ukrainian special agent was thrown overboard and spent the next 14 hours alone at sea, surrounded by enemy forces.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

Sign up to our free daily newsletter.

The agent, who uses the call-sign "Conan," agreed to speak to Ukrainska Pravda, to share the details of nearly being lost forever at sea. He also shared some background on how he arrived in the Ukrainian special forces. Having grown up in a village in a rural territory of Ukraine, Conan describes himself as "a simple guy."

He'd worked in law enforcement, personal security and had a job as a fitness trainer when Russia launched its full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, 2022. That's when he signed up with the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Main Directorate of Intelligence "Artan" battalion. It was nearly 18 months into his service, when Conan faced the most harrowing experience of the war. Here's his first-hand account:

Keep reading...Show less

The latest