In the last twelve months, we have all experienced some kind of lockdown or stay-at-home requirements and a need to find new ways to get work done and meet important deadlines. It has reminded us that we humans are, by nature, a social tribe. We thrive when interacting with one another. When we are challenged to try to connect in ways unfamiliar to us, it can create stress, loneliness, isolation, and health challenges.
— Read our blog post: Creating a Connected Workplace Culture during COVID
While many employers get top marks for doing much to support employees who have needed to work remotely, there are some latent or hidden issues now beginning to surface in increasingly concerning ways. These include greater levels of employee burnout, depression, and isolation.
Leaders find themselves plugging as many holes as they can while adapting to situations that demand problem-solving based on scenarios that might feel like they change from moment to moment. At times, it might also seem like there are not enough sand bags available to plug the dike and avoid a looming flood.
An area that could cause a workplace ‘flood’ involves this growing sense of employee isolation. While employees enjoy the convenience of remote work, they simultaneously struggle with issues of increased stress and a lack of connection they formerly enjoyed.
Our focus for this post pertains to employee isolation. It is defined as a state of feeling alone and with a lack of connection, sense of belonging or support.
Working remotely does not allow for the decompression or de-stressing time many experienced as part of their daily commute. Now, there is no structured time to mark the end of the workday other than creating it with focus, structure and self-discipline.
As well, working remotely and using digital communication tools eliminates the spontaneity of grabbing a cup of coffee with a co-worker, or dropping by someone’s desk for a quick chat. No longer can we easily engage in informal collegial banter or office small talk.
Even on Zoom or other digital platform calls, the ability to have small talk is gone and meetings are more intentional.
According to recent research by Morneau Shepell, one in four working Canadians feel more personal isolation than they did five years ago. Additionally, 41 per cent of employee respondents and 38 per cent of managers indicated they are affected by workplace isolation. Of those respondents, 40 per cent described their sense of workplace isolation as extreme.
So what can be done to address the increase in employee isolation?
Here are some tips to deal with employee isolation:
These are just some of the tips for your consideration. If you’d like a digital copy of our Remote Care Wellness Toolkit or other employee benefits-related information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s work together and create solutions that work best for you and your organization.