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1 April 2022

Not the fear of missing out, perhaps the feeling of missing out...

As hybrid working practices become the new norm and businesses start getting busier again, employers are keen to make the most of employees being back at work.

However, the CIPD (Flexible working: lessons from the pandemic) has reported an increase in feelings of loneliness for some who are still working from home which will affect their motivation and mental health. This is especially so for younger workers who miss the all important social interaction and buzz that being in a workplace can give. As human beings, a sense of belonging to something, including a workplace, brings a real feel-good factor. Being able to have social conversations with work colleagues creates a sense of belonging and gives a mental stimulation which can rapidly disappear when sitting in an online environment.

Employees may prefer to keep silent as it’s hard to open up and admit to the boss when you’re struggling and feeling isolated. Ironically this type of sensitive conversation is even harder to hold online. Employers may be expected to somehow recognise when an employee is struggling and can take small steps to help them feel reconnected with the team and business.

Employers should check in with the mainly home-based or geographically non-local employees to ensure everyone in the business continues to feel involved.

Tip: Check that they feel included in relevant work conversations and just as importantly that they remain connected to their colleagues.

Creating a sense of belonging and building in time for socialising, albeit online will also help.

Tip: Perhaps introduce additional chat time specifically for catching up to the start or end of meeting times. Allow time during the day for a break where employees can choose who they catch up with over the virtual kettle/water cooler.

Giving employees more time to reconnect and socialize with colleagues will allow working relationships to grow and new ones to be made. Remember to invite remote employees to in-person meetings on a regular basis, these are a great opportunity for a proper catch-up as well as getting some teamwork done.

Treat everyone fairly. If the office-based team are being treated to coffees, cakes or ice-cream by the boss, make sure that the remote workers are given a treat too.

Tip: Letterbox deliveries will brighten someone’s day and help them feel they are not missing out (maybe not the ice cream...)

These small, simple steps will help those struggling with feelings of isolation in the new working environment. Creating a sense of belonging and making everyone feel included in the business network will improve their motivation and mental health.

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