The Loneliness of Remote Employees

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When Home Becomes the Workplace

It’s Monday morning and Sara begins her workday pouring herself a cup of coffee and then sitting down in front of her computer. Sara’s a remote worker due to covid-19. Her work was sent to her and her work team as they each have their own part to work on. She feels lonely because she cannot interact in person with her team members, yet there are various ways she can still have contact with them. After her work day, Sara joins up with her support group online as they discuss how to combat loneliness, they all feel.

Do you ever feel like you don’t really connect with anyone at work? Do you feel as if your relationships at work are superficial? Do you feel as if people at work don’t really understand you? You’re not alone. Sometimes feeling lonely at work is a matter of preference, Introverts and creative types who thrive on working alone prefer isolation. Others who prefer to connect with co-workers most likely have difficulty need to know there are things you can try.

The lonely reality of working remotely can catch some people off guard. Today’s covid-19 on business can lead to employees working from home after it ends. Business leaders will need to weigh the pluses and minuses of what benefits the company. Whether it is to continue having employees work from home to save money for the business, leaves employees to work in a different mode than working in an office with co-workers.

“Some people prefer working alone. Many remote workers struggle with loneliness and isolation. Depending on your situation and your personality, you’ll need to customize a solution that works for you”. -Lisette Sutherland

A New Challenge for Remote Workers

At a time when social distancing has become the “norm” for most, remote employees may feel more lonelier than before. For many people, coworkers are their main source of daily human interaction. Letting your loneliness interfere with your working may need you to take more take out to connect with others that impacts on reduced productivity.

Is WFH Hurting Your Mental Health?

It’s important for leaders to understand exactly how people experience loneliness in their jobs. Loneliness is not simply the lonely employee’s problem; it influences colleagues as well as performance outcomes. Organizations need to take tackling the problem of loneliness seriously for both their employees’ sake as well as the sake of the organization itself.

Research has found that loneliness has increased year-after-year with all employees not just remote employees. Loneliness is one of the reasons that made them more likely to quit. Many employees in 2020 may experience unanticipated mental health consequences from mandated remote work, and it is important to be cognizant of this reality.

Communicating with Others

“Virtual team building can help replace valuable in-person forms of communication that are missing from the remote office; increasing the chances of talking to and interacting with one another helps remote co-workers get to know each other better, which in turn enhances their communication and teamwork skills.” -Fio Dossetto

For many people, coworkers are their main source of daily human interaction. Office workers across the country are having to navigate new ways of connecting with colleagues they no longer see in-person every day.

Create a daily/weekly check in time will keep your group connected and limit the amount of slowdown in productivity. Using video conferencing, such as Zoom, “Go-to-meeting”, Skype, or some other creative ways to connect with others.

There may be times when individual team members may reach out to another as to make a solid friendship, solicit opinions on decisions, etc.

Schedule Regular Team Meetings

“The best way to build trust is to get to know your co-workers and develop an emotional connection. We’re not robots; we’re human.”

Michael Freeman

 They feel connected, sharing their concerns, talking about their interests and even discussing any roadblocks in completing their assignments. Eventually, the remote workers are not engulfed in a feeling of loneliness. Team leaders must distribute responsibilities so that all the bases are covered with regard to any projects.

 Set up company events yearly in a location convenient for the remote professionals to attend and feel being a part of the greater community. The events help in building up acquaintances and professional relations. Remote professionals can collaborate and socialize with the other company members thus increasing their connections within the organization. Recognize outstanding performance that go beyond the acknowledgement of individual successes.

Hosting virtual meetings helps everyone get on the same page. This may require sending a few emails as reminders. Communicating with your team needs everyone to discuss or chat issues on a “face-to face” basis. Morning rituals, Lunch Time, and Dinners can be with your team members on a virtual basis.

This gives everyone the time to catch up and share with each other what you want to talk about away from workplace issues. Some even set up a cocktail hour after the work day.

    Daily stand up meetings are very important to provide due importance to all the remote team members. They do not feel ignored or left out of important company decisions. Over and above they can share their work progress, speak out their clarifications and seek assistance from their peers and manager. The meetings need to be arranged online at a common time that suits the location time zones of the remote team members.

Some believe that jumping into these coffee breaks helps mentally to start your day.

Reducing the Loneliness Further

Remote workers are more likely to quit because of loneliness and low engagement. One study found that a third of employees globally work remote always or very often, and two-thirds of them aren’t engaged.    Encourage remote team members to share their interests and hobbies other than their regular work assignments. You can even conduct quizzes, debates, and seminars among the teams to generate a feeling of being part of the team.

You decorate your desk at the office, so why not do the same when you’re working from home?

Display pictures of your interest. These may include pictures of your family, pets, things you like to relax your eyes, travel pictures. If you love flowers and plants, place some small pots near your desk. Greenery is said to influence your mind and body positively.

The above tips are just some ways to help alleviate feelings of loneliness. Leaders need to help workers with their loneliness issue as it is more than an organization problem, it impacts productivity as well. These tips can help both employees and company leaders alike. Remember, it’s lonely at the top.

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