The program, called Remotely Humorous,consists of three skills-building courses created by a pair of lecturers from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business: Naomi Bagdonas—a media and strategy consultant who has co-authored an entire book on the topic called Humor, Seriously—and Connor Diemand-Yauman, the co-CEO of Merit America, a nonprofit that offers professional skills training to people without college degrees.
Remotely Humorous may be lighthearted, but it’s grounded in science. The curriculum is based on research that demonstrates how humor improves both work life and professional growth. A series of studies conducted by researchers from Wharton and Harvard, for example, have found that using humor in the workplace can make someone seem more competent and confident. It can even help them land a job. (A survey of executives conducted by Hodge-Cronin & Associates found that 98% preferred employees with a sense of humor.) A groundbreaking study by psychologist Alice M. Isen found that humor aids people in creative problem solving, in part because laughing makes us more relaxed; when we are in fight or flight mode, we can’t access higher order thinking.