Remote work became the norm during the pandemic. And for employees who wish to work from home, it remains a more attainable and accessible option than ever. While many Americans have embraced the lifestyle benefits remote work offers, others report loneliness as one of the less-than-desirable side effects of the remote environment.
That said, it appears as though those feelings are more than just a lingering effect of lockdown isolation. One study conducted before the pandemic found full-time remote work triggered a 67% spike in loneliness. The American Psychological Association has even identified this increase as a public health concern.
Several studies have found the absence of in-person interaction adversely affects remote workers. Some employees may feel stymied as they attempt to make meaningful connections with colleagues. Socialization in the workplace is a must-have for many, but with communication confined to tools like Zoom (ZM) and Slack (WORK), some remote workers report increased feelings of burnout and even depression.
A Gallup study found full-time remote workers to be less happy than those working at home just one day a week. And in a Glassdoor (RCRUY) survey, 40% of remote worker respondents reported difficulty connecting with coworkers.
Tips of the Remote Work Trade
There are a few potential ways to retain the work-life balance offered by remote environments, while sidestepping the loneliness that can result.
• Consider a hybrid solution. Working in the office, even if only for a single day per week, can provide a means to form tighter bonds that carry over to the virtual environment.
• Keep watercooler chats alive. During virtual meetings, take a minute for casual banter. Even a simple conversation about weekend plans can serve as an icebreaker and foster a deeper sense of connection.
• Think outside the cubicle. Connecting face-to-face with colleagues by organizing occasional get-togethers to volunteer or meet-ups for coffee can go a long way toward scratching the social itch.
Innovation always creates unexpected challenges, and it’s no wonder the rise of remote work brought with it a few obstacles. Fortunately, all it may take to overcome them is a little creativity on your part.
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