Technology can lead to a sense of isolation in the workplace

Tracy Li
Overreliance on technology when communicating in the workplace could lead to employees to feel lonely.
Tracy Li

An overreliance on technology when communicating in the workplace could lead employees feelings of isolation, warns recruiting experts Hays.

Modern offices mean people are more connected than ever before, however this is limiting the number of face-to-face interactions, leading to employees struggling with workplace loneliness, the company said based on a recent study of organizations.

 “Considering the digital age has brought colleagues from across the world closer together, it’s ironic that it’s also making us feel more detached in the workplace,” said Simon Lance, managing director of Hays China.

Thus, it’s important for HR professionals and business leaders to spot any members of their workforce that may be struggling with loneliness, otherwise the cost of not doing so can be great and could even affect the overall performance of the company through poor productivity and poor retention of key staff, the report noted.

A sense of loneliness and detachment can have a direct impact on performance, engagement, wellbeing and can even lead to an employee taking time off, Hays said. It can also result in a higher turnover of staff if employees decide to seek a career elsewhere due to unhappiness.

This can be an issue for businesses if they are suffering from skill shortages and retention of their talent is a key priority.

Working remotely is seen as a key benefit to many employees as it offers them flexibility. Working from home, however, can be a contributing factor to workers feeling lonely, according to the research. Having a connection with a colleague at work can make a big difference to a person’s wellbeing.

Business leaders are advised to make sure remote workers visit the office on a regular basis, at least once a week, which will help combat any feelings of isolation that they may experience from spending the majority of the day by themselves and only interacting with colleagues via a screen and over the phone.

“To professionals I would advise that they keep an eye on their colleagues, especially those that spend a great deal of time away from the office, often it’s one person that can make a difference,” Lance added.

To fight loneliness in the workplace, Hays encourages organizations to try to build a culture that focuses on inclusion for all colleagues and ensure people feel comfortable talking to each other or their line managers if they are struggling with feelings of loneliness.

Companies should also ensure staff who work in an isolated location regularly get some time in the office working with their peers, establish social groups and invite employees who may feel lonely to attend.

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