Remote working: how to combat loneliness

Remote working has become normality for many people since the pandemic. After Covid-19, many companies chose to keep the work from home infrastructure in place, which for many, is a solution to many of the pre-pandemic problems that workers faced. It’s allowed parents to spend more time with their children, or removed the rush hour commute to and from work, allowing people to gain a couple of extra hours in their day to pursue more fulfilling activities and hobbies, or even just have an extra hour in bed! Despite the positives that this has brought, research into how positive remote work actually is has mixed results.

Although a survey conducted on 3000 remote workers in 2023 found that 98% wanted to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers, one in three shared that they have become socially isolated as they no longer have a need to leave their home. Loneliness has become an increased issue since the pandemic. But what is loneliness, and how can we solve this in remote working environments?

Loneliness comes from the discomfort we feel when there is a perceived gap between the social connect we feel we should be getting, and the social connect we are actually getting. Of course, different personalities will perceive the amount of social connect they need differently, with more extroverted people needing more social connectivity in their lives. It’s easy to here how working from home every day could cause feelings of social isolation to occur.

One survey found that 81% of under-35s feared that working from home for long periods of time would cause loneliness to occur. In addition to this, research has shown that remote workers are working longer hours, with data suggesting that up to 80% of workers feeling like remote working has negatively impacted their wellbeing.

Working in an office provides that human interaction and connection we all need. A quick catch up whilst making a cup of coffee, someone to talk to during your lunch break, or even an immediate chat with someone else on your team for some support on your work goes a long way. But with remote working, many people lose these interactions, and it’s not surprising that these have an impact on employees wellbeing. These quick breaks in the office chatting with people are often replaced by more screen time – a quick Instagram scroll or watching a couple of Tik Toks to pass the time.

However, it’s not all negative. As mentioned at the start, many people want to keep some kind of remote working for the majority of their career. And for a lot of people, the switch to remote working has been really positive. Those with extra caring responsibilities, like for an elderly parent or children, have experienced a positive change in wellbeing since working from home. The flexibility working from home provides is essential to maintaining a healthy work-life balance for many.

Finding the balance for everyone is key, but can often be a struggle for businesses. It’s hard to cater to everyone’s needs.


Written by: Megan Emily Phillips for H W Martin & Co LLP


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