By Ashish Pandey
As someone rightly said, one plus one makes an organisation i.e. where there are two or more persons, there is in effect, an organisation. A well-run organisation works out a set of rules, commonly known as policies, programmes, rules, or guidelines and sanctions. These are designed not to restrict creativity, but to assist its members in the accomplishment of the organisational goals. However, more often than not, these conventions became a major cause of organisational loneliness. In the Harvard Business Review, Vivek Murthy has stated that “We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization, yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s. Today, over 40% of adults in America report feeling lonely, and research suggests that the real number may be higher.”
Understanding workplace loneliness
Loneliness is the subjective feeling of having an inadequate social connection. Why has this feeling increased over past decades? A part of it could be because people are more geographically mobile and thus are more likely to be living apart from friends and families. In the workplace, models of working such as telecommuting have created flexibility, but often reduce the opportunities for interpersonal interaction and meaningful relationships.
Happy hours, coffee breaks, and team-building exercises are designated to build connections between colleagues, but do they really help people develop a deep relationship? On average, we spend more working hours with our co-workers than we do with our families, but do they really care about us? Do they understand our values?
Studying the phenomenon
In the first study to empirically analyse the effect of loneliness on work performance, Sigal Barsade and Haken Ozcelin examined the experience of 672 employees in 143 teams. They found that loneliness led to withdrawal from teamwork, weaker productivity, motivation and poorer performance. Loneliness is a personal emotion, but it should not be a private concern.
Lessons to be learned
So, be kind and attentive to yourself first. Often, we put our heads down to get work done or to get through the day and fail to listen to ourselves. The buffer team does an amazing job of connecting every day through sharing not only their work accomplishments but also their self-improvement goals, such as sticking with fitness regimes or learning a code. These points provide fodder for rich conversations and opportunities to show incredible support, helping to create a close, nourishing work life that permits people to be vulnerable yet supported and always aiming higher.
Featured Image Source: Pexels
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