The Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to a mass experiment in home working, with evidence suggesting it is a trend which is here to stay. Despite its benefits, it doesn’t come without challenges and one very notable challenge is the increased risk of workplace isolation.
The negative implications of workplace isolation can lead to decreased job performance and negative work-related wellbeing, loneliness, and a decrease in emotional and psychological wellbeing. All of which can have negative organisational consequences, such as absenteeism, increased rate of turnover and an adverse impact on company culture.
Although we are all susceptible, evidence indicates that some of us are more likely to suffer the negative implications of workplace isolation than others. Understanding this is important for employers of all sizes who are operating with a full or part remote workforce. This post briefly covers what workplace isolation is and how it differs to loneliness, who is likely to be more susceptible, and what can be done to mitigate the risk. Further information, real examples and specific solutions can be accessed by downloading our free white paper below.
Workplace isolation can be defined as a perceived absence of support from co-workers and supervisors and lack of opportunities for social and emotional interactions with the team.
Loneliness can be explained by cognitive theory as the discrepancy between a person’s expected and actual level of their entire social and emotional interactions. When defined like this, it becomes easy to see how workplace isolation can contribute to general feelings of loneliness, particularly for those who desire a greater amount of social and emotional interaction than others.
“Some new recruits are able to seamlessly work remotely whilst others struggle, despite the job role and level of organisational support on offer being identical”
Research indicates that loneliness has a key impact on mood, self-esteem, and anxiety. And as established, workplace isolation can contribute to loneliness; with cognitive theory suggesting that some are more susceptible to this than others. A good example of this may exist whereby some new recruits are able to seamlessly work remotely whilst others struggle, despite the job role and level of organisational support on offer being identical.
What can employers do to reduce the risk? Employers can firstly use this information to optimise already existing means of virtually communicating. However, relying purely on virtual means of communicating may not be suitable for most. Research on employee experience of constant home working during lockdowns suggests that despite being fans of the benefits that home working brings, there remains a desire for occasional face to face interaction at work, predominantly for enjoyment purposes.
Therefore, combining virtual means of communicating whilst emphasising that remote and flexible working doesn’t always have to mean home working may be the perfect balance…
Download the white paper, which includes:
- An exploration of home worker isolation
- Potential implications for employee wellbeing and company culture
- Evidence based solutions for employers.