In the last year, the number of people working remotely saw a sharp rise due to the pandemic. It has resulted in social isolation, which has led more people to experience remote working loneliness.
Apart from the obvious challenges of remote working, such as limited access to technology, connectivity and other work essentials, the lack of team spirit is one hurdle that employers and team leaders struggle to overcome.
As many employees cope with change and the toll it has on mental and physical health, it has hurt productivity to a certain degree.
Overcoming workplace isolation is something that now tops the list of priorities for companies, particularly for organisations within a significant remote-based workforce.
In this guide, get to know the different strategies to improve social interaction at work and how to overcome isolation for remote workers.
How do you deal with isolation at work?
Before you look into the strategies to overcome feeling isolated at work, it is important to understand what causes the struggle in the first place.
Not knowing when to unplug after work is one of the most common causes of mental health decline. You are left feeling burnt out and alone with no one to turn to. The lack of a collaborative space and sense of belonging with a team at work can also result in reduced productivity.
These are just some of the challenges that remote workers face on top of the difficulty in building an efficient workstation from home. Here are some ideas you can consider look into to curb feeling isolated at work:
1. Foster human connection
Part of the feeling of loneliness that you get when working from home is the lack of human connection. When you work in an office, you are used to interacting with your co-workers. But when you are at home, your level of interaction is limited. Team leaders and employers must cultivate a remote work culture so that your employees do not suffer from remote work isolation.
This can be achieved through a mix of virtual meetings and in-person meetings. One technique you can try is the method known as “pair calls”. In this strategy, two members of your team are paired up in a virtual get-together. This is a chance for them to get to know each other better. The meeting will involve non-work related conversations – an opportunity to connect on a personal level. You can also try to do this by involving more members of your team. Adapt this strategy to see what works best for your team.
This approach is a great way to remind everyone that they are part of the team, even when they are working apart.
2. Propose a hybrid work schedule
Many workers that had to work from home crave employee interaction in the workplace. You can help employees overcome the struggle of feeling isolated at work during covid by adopting a hybrid work schedule.
The hybrid work schedule is when you can have your workforce take turns being back in the office and working from home. This gives your employees the option to work from home on some days or in the office on the other. Experts predict this will be the new norm in a future-ready business model. It offers flexibility for the employees while taking care of their well-being, especially those who want to reduce workplace isolation.
3. Switch to a flexible office space
Another great option to overcome the loneliness of working from home is to switch to a flexible office space. A flexible workspace will enable your employees to beat the feeling of isolation from home by accessing an agile work environment in a location near their home. It facilitates concentration and productivity with secure private offices, reliable IT infrastructure, meeting facilities, business lounges, and other value-adding features.
The flexible office space is a good place to start for improving social interaction at work particularly for workforces that have been away from the office for a considerable amount of time. With a spacious layout, designated areas, and an environment that is constantly kept clean, more employees can return to work with a peace of mind and a safe space to socially interact.
4. Schedule quarterly or monthly visits at a common location.
You can encourage a socially-distanced gathering among your colleagues and teams at a common location or office on a semi-regular basis to give everyone a chance to catch up and interact. Use this opportunity to get updates on team projects or collaborations, or simple turn it into a team building activity designed to make the members of your team feel connected.
Promoting social interaction at work should not be pushed into the back burner simply because the majority of your employees are remote-based. In fact, now more than ever is the best time to double your efforts at building connections with your employees.