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‘Time for a happiness meeting’: A day in the life of an agency happiness officer

Kiera Lawlor makes a living being happy.

At 2-year-old social media agency Social Chain, the Birmingham native has spent the past 12 months as “head of happiness.”

“People assume it is about annoying people and getting them to smile,” she explained. “But I stay away from the cheese as much as possible.”

According to Lawlor, the gig doesn’t entail enforced fun but rather ensuring that Social Chain’s 70-strong team (with an average age of 23) has the environment they need to do a good job. And she has an unlimited budget to do so.

The agency, which started as a group of 20-somethings running viral Twitter accounts, has since raised £2 million ($2.5 million) to grow into a branded-content empire. The team touts an ability to make something top Twitter’s Trending list in under 30 minutes through its network of influencers and pages.

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The ping pong table inside Social Chain’s Manchester office.

Like any buzzy agency, the office isn’t normal. There’s a mummified tree, giant slide and an “area filled with foam things,” which can make productivity hard, Lawlor said, because it’s easy to fall asleep there.

As for perks, staff at Social Chain get an unlimited holiday allowance and unlimited booze at its in-built bar. “At the weekends, I miss work a bit,” Lawlor confessed.

Here, she walks us through a day in her life ahead of the holiday break. Excerpts have been lightly edited for clarity.

6:00 a.m.: Get out of bed to have coffee and a cigarette. After, I attempt to counteract that via some exercises with my medicine ball. I need to be in shape as I’m going to Australia for a three-week holiday over Christmas.

6:30 a.m.: Jump on Workplace, Facebook’s app for work, which all our staff use to communicate. I post a few topical things in the news group, but we have loads of other fun ones on there. For example, everyone at Social Chain gets a free gym membership, so there’s one where we encourage each other to reach our fitness goals.

7:00 a.m.: I shower, get dressed then hop on the bus to our office in the center of Manchester.

8:30 a.m.: I’m first in, which is normal. I start preparing breakfast for the team, which is a mixture of healthy food, croissants and bacon sandwiches. Then, I get the space ready so everyone can come in and get straight on with their work. Today, this means returning all the balls to the ball pit, switching on the miniature waterfalls in the meeting room and putting on our Spotify playlist. Staff can add whatever music they like, but we’re only allowing one hour of Christmas songs a day.

9:00 a.m.: I have coffee and Weetabix on the big benches in the kitchen and catch up with people about the night before.

9:30 a.m.: Look at emails. Currently, I’m in discussions with a local healthy-food restaurant for them to supply our meals, so I check in to see that we’re still set for January.

11:00 a.m.: Then it’s time for a happiness meeting, which happens every month for each of our staff. The idea is to find out what can make their experience here better. We talk about a new year party at the end of next month with a DJ and cocktails. I’m hoping nobody will do a dry January as it’s my birthday then too.

We had a “Great British Bake Off” competition yesterday, so I try to flog some leftover gingerbread men as a mid-morning snack. Some are missing arms, so no one wants those.

12:00 p.m.: Next up, a dog walk with Louie and 11-week-old Pablo, both French Bulldogs. We have up to five dogs in the office, and it can get wild sometimes as they’re free to roam around. Louie — who has over 19,000 Instagram followers of his own — is a regular on our Instagram and Snapchat accounts, which I manage.

12:30 p.m.: As part of our Christmas fun, I hired us space in Manchester’s Christmas Market for hot dogs and burgers. There’s a little karaoke machine in there too, which got interesting.

2:00 p.m.: Jason, the head of video, is turning 18 this week so I put the finishing touches to his cake and survival kit. It’s full of gin, prosecco and hangover foods like popcorn, smoothies and crisps. Everyone here gets a birthday present, and Jason’s got a gliding experience.

2:30 p.m.: Step into a creative meeting, which anyone in the company can attend. The team discusses the crazy client live streams we’ve been doing every day for the last couple of weeks. The other meeting room has been taken up with one of the team dressed as a turkey and I’m currently sat next to a giant Christmas cracker.

4:00 p.m.: After ordering the weekly food shop for when everyone’s back in January, I take 30 minutes to jot down ideas, which I send for approval from our founders, Dom and Steve. I usually do one activity a week to celebrate events like World Gin Day. So far, I’ve never had an idea rejected.

5:00 p.m.: It’s the weekly creative review, so I grab beer from our fully stocked bar and hear what’s been happening with our campaigns and what’s coming up. Our new Berlin and New York offices join by Skype. Now that we’ve grown, my job is more exciting because there’s more people to enjoy what I do and give me input.

6:00 p.m.: Head home on the bus. When I get in, I share a homemade chili with my girlfriend and take a bath. Then, I’ll play some guitar. I’m really into documentaries about wolves and bears, so later I put on “Grizzly Man.”

12:00 a.m.: After catching up on Twitter and the BBC News app, I head to bed.

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