Combat Workplace Loneliness

By: Sarah Pernai
VP Client Service

As a self-proclaimed introvert, I always thought I would love remote work… until I was in it. I became JB’s first and only (at the time) fully remote employee in 2016 – well before the pandemic made it a possibility (or necessity). I loved the flexibility of a work-from-anywhere policy and flexible schedule. My days that were previously filled with morning catch-ups with colleagues and mid-day snack breaks to discuss strategy were replaced with lots of focus time and several structured, virtual meetings with set agendas each week. The touchpoints were regimented and efficient, but I found myself jealous of the in-office banter and unplanned lunch outings I was missing out on in Chicago. I craved a strong connection – not the Wi-Fi kind – to my coworkers and clients as I worked harder and harder to collaborate while being marooned in my own home office.

It seems like this shift is catching on in the post-pandemic era now too. Employees are lonelier than ever with 49% reporting a lack of connection to their colleagues according to a recent survey by BetterUp1. Those who feel lonely at work report lower job satisfaction and performance, and this loneliness is affecting both mental and physical health of employees. With work-life balance increasingly ranking higher in job satisfaction surveys than other benefits, it can be hard to add social gatherings to employee’s schedules when they’re already feeling strapped for time in the day and overwhelmed by work demands.

  • Develop a mentorship program to match colleagues who wouldn’t normally interact with each other
  • Schedule training workshops for dual purpose: to help employees develop their professional skills while also interacting and socializing with their colleagues
  • Encourage employees to join (or start) affinity groups that help them build connections with likeminded individuals across the organization
  • Curb the loneliness and join us and 40,000 other HR professionals at SHRM this year! Our session “Teams That Thrive: Creating a Culture of Collaboration” shares key strategies and practical approaches to cultivate an environment of aligned purpose, cohesion, trust, and dialogue among hybrid and dispersed teams.

When we’re not collaborating together in the office, the JB team relies on our remote staff to curb our loneliness.

Meet the crew of canines and felines that we call our workplace BFFs.