Workers spend almost 50 percent of each day on digital versus in-person communication, and more than half feel lonely as a result.
Workplace expert and author Dan Schawbel, who has a new book out, Back to Human: How Great Leaders Create Connection in the Age of Isolation, spoke with Personal Space about a study he conducted called “Global Work Connectivity.” In the study, he found that almost half of an employee’s day is spent using technology to communicate instead of in-person, and that slightly more than half feel lonely always or very often as a result. “Employees increasingly depend on technology tools to communicate with their teammates, including email (45 percent), text messaging (15 percent), and instant messaging (12 percent). Of those who cited email, over 40 percent said they feel lonely always or very often, are not engaged, and have a high need for social connection,” Schawbel said.
He spoke with over 2,000 managers and employees in 10 different countries, and said he also found that the more friends you have at work, the longer you will stay with your company. “The study found that 7 percent of all employees globally have no friends at work and over half have five or fewer total friends. 62 percent who have five or fewer friends feel lonely either always or very often and 72 percent say they aren’t engaged. 60 percent would be more inclined to stay with their company longer if they had more friends. This was especially true for younger employees."
Schawbel said remote workers are more likely to quit because of loneliness and low engagement. “The study found that a third of employees globally work remote always or very often, and two-thirds of them aren’t engaged. Only 5 percent of remote workers always or very often see themselves working at their company for their entire career compared to 28 percent who never work remote.”
Men, introverts, and younger generations have a greater need for work companionship. “The study uncovered that men (57 percent) feel lonely at work more than women (43 percent) and introverts (63 percent) feel lonely at work more than extroverts (37 percent). Younger generations feel lonely at work more often than older generations.”
What can be done?
“Leaders can support employee relationships by encouraging connection in person over online. Leaders can help facilitate stronger relationships between team members through team-building activities (45 percent), social events (45 percent), and ‘workations.’"
“Technology has created the illusion that workers are connected, when in reality they feel isolated, lonely, disengaged, and less committed to their organizations when overusing or misusing it,” Schawbel said. “While remote workers gain freedom and flexibility, the study found that they are disengaged and less likely to want a long-term career with their company because of their lack of human contact." Today’s leaders need to use technology as a bridge to connection so that they can foster strong work cultures, where employee’s human needs are met and supported. The best way for them to do that is through team building activities, social events, and workations where workers can get to know each other on a personal level.
Personal Space is Bravo's home for all things "relationships," from romance to friendships to family to co-workers. Ready for a commitment? Then Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates.