Combatting loneliness when hybrid working

Over 70% of employees have admitted to experiencing loneliness whilst hybrid working and feel that it is the responsibility of their employer to provide support to combat this.

A recent survey by Silicon Reef reached out to over 1,000 UK employees and revealed that loneliness continues to be a key issue for those who are flexible working, with staff feeling that it is the responsibility of their employer to support them with remote working and issues arising from this, such as mental health challenges.

So why is loneliness an ongoing issue?

Despite hybrid working offering time and cost-saving benefits to businesses, it can often be lonely. In the UK many businesses are still in the process of transitioning to hybrid, bringing staff back into the office for just a couple of days, a week, or even just for meetings.

Our workplace is typically the place where we do up to 70% of our socialising, so as much as we can create an office space at home, it’s no wonder that the reduction in face-to-face human interaction is having a significant impact on our wellbeing and mental health.

Contact with our team members has been mostly virtual since we went into lockdown as a result of the health crisis in 2020, and with a reduction in our usual social interactions, office banter, commuting and working day routines in a space outside of our homes, for many a remote working environment has proved to be challenging.

Anxiety and depression have been at the forefront of reports, showing a significant impact on individuals for the first time, whilst other existing mental health conditions have been exacerbated by increased isolation. A study from Nespresso showed that 20% of their employees were suffering from loneliness, which in turn has an effect on personal and professional relationships, depression and even substance abuse.

But loneliness isn’t the only issue that needs to be addressed, with almost 50% of workers surveyed by Silicon Reef saying that they often feel disconnected and demotivated, taking to different locations outside of their homes to work such as a café.

A blend of technology and leadership skills is required

Technology plays a vital role in keeping us connected and ensuring we have access to the tools we need to do our jobs effectively. Workers are calling for better ways to feel engaged with their teams, including better ways to share documents, easier ways to join meetings, less disruptions and even quicker adoption on meetings in the Metaverse.

But technology alone isn’t enough to combat loneliness. There is also a need to equip our leaders and managers with the skills and behaviours required to effectively lead in a hybrid environment. And as technology continues to evolve, so do our leadership need to be able to adopt these changes at a quicker rate, to ensure they can lead their teams towards new working practices.

When it comes to ensuring staff wellbeing, there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach, and now more than ever leaders and mangers are required to develop empathy, skills and emotional intelligence in order to place a duty of care at the heart of their role and responsibilities.

Creating a positive experience when working from home requires employers to adapt their approaches with the expectations of the modern and enlightened workforce – but this is proving to be much harder than it looks. Loneliness and isolation is impacting employers with a loss of talent, with many starting to recognise just how complex the transition to a hybrid working model is. And if left unaddressed, these levels of disengagement risk impacting our wider society, such as our customers.

If you are an organisation that is facing challenges with the transition to hybrid working, visit our Leading and Managing in a Hybrid World website page where we explain how we work with your leaders and managers to help you to implement changes to working practices, support employee wellbeing and build a healthy and sustainable hybrid culture.

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