Live events are still postponed and the guidelines continue to shift and turn according to government whim. Production companies like us are left navigating in a sea of confusion to find the best way to provide entertainment and resume business conferences, courses and workshops.
Whilst my ability to optimise a difficult situation has been severely challenged over the last four months, I do have some ‘good news’ to report as a virtual phoenix has arisen out of the ashes with our online programme of events and courses. Getting people together during lockdown has been a vital lifeline for those of us who work in the gig economy providing expertise and laughs for the corporate community and beyond.
We have focused on bringing people together to learn, laugh and share experiences. Right now, while we’re still grappling with the realities of redundancies, furloughing, resignations and continuing uncertainty, there’s a real need for fun.
Communicating with humour will reinforce your business’s core values and help you reconnect with customers. We have taken our experiences from lockdown and created new events and courses to help you rebuild your teams, giving you the confidence and inspiration to get back to work with a smile.
A lot can be achieved in the confines of the online space and there’s some incredible benefits. We have crossed borders and datelines with our Comedy Crash Courses engaging with participants from all over the world – some braving impossibly early morning starts in the US or joining us in the middle of the night from Australia.
All of this experience has helped us formulate how we can start working again with our corporate clients. We have developed new online HERlarious programmes around team building and working remotely which include workshops on building confidence, reducing isolation, improving wellbeing, boosting resilience and having your voice.
There’s always been a premium on humour and brands are continually ‘rediscovering’ the value of a funny film or script to promote their products or services. Comedy has always been deployed in advertising, albeit from a predominantly white, middle class male perspective.
A study in 2016 by Unilever, the #SeeHer campaign, reviewed depictions of women in advertising, to reveal that only 3% of ads show women in leadership positions, 2% show women being intelligent, and only 1% show women with a sense of humour.
The reality is that there’s no real diversity in terms of how humour is used as I outlined when we originally launched HERlarious with our Comedy for Creatives initiative. Maybe COVID-19 gives us an opportunity to redress the balance.
Humour unites us all across borders, gender, ability and culture and has real impact and resonance in the virtual space. Women in particular use web and social media to amplify their voices and to connect and expand their working parameters, often whilst bearing the brunt of childcare or managing households.
Maybe post COVID-19 we will have a broader outlook and find new ways of connecting and working together that improves our understanding of different communities. By expanding our online boundaries we can build more awareness of cultural and sexual diversity, neurodiversity, living and working with disability, and awareness of mental health. This will help us to grow and develop our teams for the future and provide them with new strategies for improved wellbeing and resilience.
I wrote an article for the Guardian in 2014 exploring the nature of play at work and although the workplace may have changed for ever, I know that a GSOH is the one prevailing asset that we look for in the people we choose to live and work with. We are drawn to people who are fun and memorable, regardless of gender, and laughter is a great antidote to the stress and uncertainly of today’s reality.