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Loneliness within the (Distant) Office

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In the article “Dealing with social isolation” from April 2020, the Society for Personnel Management (SHRM) states: “Managers have a responsibility to help reduce isolation in the workplace. You need to prioritize social connections in these unprecedented times of social distancing and remote working. “How serious is the problem of social isolation during COVID19? The respondents to our own coronavirus reader survey on the property and casualty insurance industry identified the isolation of employees and co-workers as the greatest challenge when working from home (41%). For companies that view remote working as an extended or permanent employment strategy, the well-being of some employees – whether due to personality type or working conditions at home – may be at risk.

Two years ago, the Center for Workplace Health published a blog titled “Workplace loneliness can be costly to employers.” Warning of the Costs of Isolation and Loneliness, Former American Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, MD, M .Sc. outlined:

  • How technology that enables flexible and remote working contributes to isolation
  • the link between isolation, loneliness and health problems
  • How a corporate culture of isolation and loneliness can lead to lower productivity and higher health claims for an employer

In accordance with Dr. Murthy’s concerns noted more than half of our own respondents who experienced isolation, also a challenge with distraction and 25% health issues (diet, sleep stress, etc.). Looking more closely at the survey responses, we found that managers were most affected by isolation (51%), followed by senior vice presidents (45%), underwriters (43%) and producers (39%).

To provide more insight, we’ve added Cigna’s Loneliness and the Workplace: US 2020 Report to our Research & Trends library. This report provides survey data on factors contributing to loneliness, including:

  • Satisfaction with personal interactions at work correlated with a lower level of loneliness (page 11).
  • The type of work environment affects the loneliness (remote vs. in person) (page 12).
  • Frequent teleworking and dissatisfaction with teleworking lead to loneliness (page 13).
  • Above – and below – it’s lonely looking at positions within an organization (page 15).

Taking your employees’ pulse is important, and as you learn more about their needs now and in the future, your priorities for your workplace and culture can change. Haven’t asked your own employees yet? We can help you with a customized version of our survey that suits your needs. You can use the results of our survey as a benchmark for the answers of your own employees. Find out more here.

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