Bicycle commuter by Milton Correa on Flickr

The Get-To-Work-Happy Game

by Scott Crabtree

What if we could game our way to happiness at work? Recently I have become more and more fascinated with that question and started working on a happiness game. It seems like the natural thing to do when you have been living and breathing video game design for years. Stay tuned for more on the topic! For now, here is version 0.0001 of my game:

You are ready to head to work. Suppose you have the choice and time for any of the following. Which option do you choose?

A) Drive

B) Take public transporation

C) Walk or ride a bike

D) Carpool with colleagues

E) Work from home (telecommute)

Before I give you your score, some qualifications:

  1. I pride myself on scientific sources. While this game is grounded in science, I have not yet systematically evaluated the scoring with scientific peers. Input from scientists and everyone encouraged.
  2. Science can give us meaningful data, but data comes from large groups. Every brain in the world is different. Your mileage may vary-literally!

Your score:

A) -5 points for most solo drivers. Surveys from around the world indicate consistently that commuting to work in the morning is one of the least happy times we have. If you find some way to get into ‘flow’ while driving to work alone-by listening to a deeply engaging audio program, for example–this could turn this into +5 points for you.

B) +5 points for taking public transportation. You are saving yourself some stressful driving, and giving yourself an opportunity to chat with others or work and get into flow.

C) +10 points for physical activity. Exercise is shown to be as effective as anti-depressants in treating depression in the long term. It’s also shown to boost brain function. You’ll arrive at work happier and smarter.  Add another 10 points for social happiness if you ride or walk with colleagues.

D) +10 points for social contact, the #1 factor in happiness for most of us, according to research.

E) +5 points for eliminating your commute, again typically an unhappy time. But be careful, working at home can be isolating, which leads to unhappiness. See my previous post, 3 Productivity Tips for Working Happily from Home.

If you feel good about driving less for environmental reasons, that would add +1 for any commuting method except A.

I look forward to hearing how your mileage leads to your happy or unhappy arrival at work.