Social Disconnect of Remote Work
Remote work isn’t just here to stay, it has become the new norm and a way of working that people love and strive for, although there is a flipside of it as well. Recent research done by Buffer found that loneliness is the biggest challenge remote workers are facing. The number of remote workers has increased dramatically, but this physical separation of co-workers has led to more people feeling like they don't have friends at work, and that they're less loyal or connected to their company because of it.
As the numbers of remote workers are increasing on a global level, remote working is becoming an increasingly popular method of working. It is predicted that by 2027, the majority of the US workforce will be working remotely. In the past two years, there has been a 79% increase in LinkedIn job posts advertising work arrangements. This is a good indication that more remote workers are expected to enter the workforce soon.
Contrary to the office work lifestyle of getting dressed early in the morning, battle to commute to the office in peak traffic, work in a room with a few other people, take tea and lunch breaks, et cetera, things have drastically change for remote workers. In many cases, it can be difficult for remote workers to navigate working away from the office. Best practices are not as well defined because remote working – at least in its current form – is still relatively new. So, it can be difficult to know how you should act as a remote worker.
Apart from all the advantages of working remotely, there are a few red lights flickering if a good balance is not maintained between working remotely and your private life. A few red lights might be a disconnect from your social life, your general health, eating habits, lack of exercise, working longer hours, without taking a break, et cetera.
Working remotely can be conducive to becoming isolated
Remote workers normally work independently in the same room, every day, all alone. Or, they can even sit silently in a coffee shop with no one to communicate with and that can become very lonely, leaving people feeling isolated and alone. Some remote workers may feel that they are not even part of a company, others don’t leave the house or getting up only two or, three times a day. Talking to coworkers over Zoom doesn’t feel the same as interacting with real people in the world.
When remote workers feel connected to their teams and are involved in projects, they are more productive and happy employees. A disconnect or isolation can quickly be picked up if they start feeling isolated, not appreciated or left out and are hesitant to share a concern. Buffet undertook a poll in 2018 and found that 20% of all remote workers feel lonely at times.
If a remote worker feels disconnected from their job they are likely to feel less engaged with their work and leads to poor work performance that can affect a company’s bottom line.
Signs of remote worker isolation and disconnect.
- Missing of deadlines or sloppy work.
This is probably the most obvious sign of workers disconnection. Some of the reasons might be misunderstanding of the project or assignment, sickness in the worker’s family, et cetera. Remote workers should communicate openly about it.
- Stops offering input.
If the remote worker stops communicating, or suddenly stops offering suggestions or participating in a discussion, it could be a sign of a disconnect,
- Fake sickness or changing schedules.
Shifting of meetings or schedules or not being available without a good reason can indicate a disconnect. Open communication about the reason for not being available, i.e. children’s activities, dealing with a crisis, et cetera is necessary to create mutual understanding.
- No interaction with other remote workers.
A lack of communication is problematic and the worker needs to share with the employer and co-workers if they for instance have an IT problem, Wi-Fi challenges, family challenges and check how other remote workers handle similar matters.
- Skips meetings
It could be easy to determine if a worker for instance experience an IT or software problem. It can however also be a sign of growing isolation and a disconnect to the employer or team.
10 Tips to avoid loneliness when working from home or working remotely (https://www.owllabs.come/b;og/remote-work-loneliness)
Top of Form
The number of remote workers has increased dramatically, but this physical separation of co-workers has led to more people feeling like they don't have friends at work, and that they're less loyal or connected to their company because of it.
For remote workers, loneliness leads to poor outcomes for physical and mental health and productivity. For employers and team leaders, strengthening bonds and connectedness between remote team members and co-located team members can help reduce turnover and improve team collaboration by building relationships.
How to Prevent & Overcome Remote Work and Work from Home Loneliness (This topic will be discussed more in depth in a future Blog).
- Work at least one day per week outside of your home.
- Take advantage of your flexible schedule during the day.
- Make plans after work when you're feeling isolated.
- Join or form groups within your organisation for regular social connection at work.
- Use video conferencing tools and phone calls to communicate with your team.
- Offer remote workers a co-working space stipend.
- Schedule team-wide or company-wide virtual meetings that allow employees to connect.
- Facilitate monthly or quarterly visits to headquarters or a common location.
- Schedule all-company events at least once yearly.
- Set up meetings to make remote workers feel included.
Although it can be difficult to work remotely, the flexibility that it offers, is all worth it. Valuable resources are available to support remote workers or those who plan to do so. Whilst enjoying to work remotely, remember to develop a healthy routine and balance to prevent a disconnect and feeling lonely.
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