Feeling lonely in the workplace? Since the pandemic, many of us have changed the way we work. While this flexibility can be great for juggling other commitments, it means that we’re more alone than ever before. Peppy’s director of healthy minds, Linda Gillham, looks at the ways we can make our working day less lonely.
Loneliness is on the rise
- From 2016 to 2017, 5% of adults in England reported feeling lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’.
- Compared to non-lonely employees, lonely workers take double the number of sick days a year.
- One in 10 employees expressed that they never interact with people through in-person conversations or meetings at the workplace.
Over the past couple of years, remote working has become more common for many of us.
For some people, not having to go into the office is a relief, but it can leave others feeling disconnected and lonely – whether they’re in the workplace or at home. We all have different needs for contact.
For many people, getting a dog during lockdown filled the hole the office used to plug.
Loneliness is complex. It can be situational – for example, if you’ve moved to a new area or workplace and are yet to find social connections – or it can be long-standing and enduring.
Some tips for working from home
Keeping in touch with work colleagues is an absolute must when working from home.
Engage with all the tools available to you, virtual events or short Zoom coffee calls or video lunch breaks.
For example, messaging system Slack has a ‘Donut’ function, where you can be linked with someone you don’t know and invited to connect. This may feel awkward at first, but it can be a great way to make connections.
Instant messaging services offer a quick way to share a thought or a joke with colleagues; a good way to keep in touch and help boost morale when things get stressful.
If you are struggling to complete work tasks or procrastinating, think about finding a colleague that you could buddy up with and share accountability.
Some tips for working in an office
If you are working in an office, just saying ‘hello’ regularly to someone can be enough to start a conversation.
Or perhaps offer to make someone a coffee next time you make yourself one, or go on the lunch run together.
Use your internal messaging system. Create a channel for your outside interests, maybe pets, or set a challenge where others can join in, for example, doing a 10,000 steps a day or an office ‘bake off’ competition.
Encourage other colleagues to post, as you never know what you will find in common with someone – and that one connection could go a long way for both you and them.