With a recent survey showing that more than 80% of employees say their company has adopted hybrid working, it’s likely that you’ve been affected by this shift in some way. Whether you’re still going into the office a few days a week, or now spending most of your time at home, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re looking after your mental health.

If you’re experiencing feelings of loneliness and isolation while hybrid working, you’re not alone; over 70% of employees have admitted to experiencing loneliness whilst hybrid working.  

But, how can you spot the signs of loneliness and how can you combat this? Let’s look at some tips, including how technology can help.  

5 Symptoms of Loneliness in the Hybrid Workplace

Loneliness is a universal experience; we all know what it feels like, whether we’ve felt it from time to time or it’s become a more prominent feeling in our lives. Loneliness is a tool that has evolved with us, much like hunger or thirst, to increase our likelihood of survival.  

You might think it’s hard to feel lonely with a few days in the office here and there and back-to-back meetings on Microsoft Teams, however this type of human connection is new for us; we’re typically used to being more sociable than this. 

Here are some of the symptoms of loneliness that you may start to experience in a hybrid workplace:

1. Lack of motivation at work 

One of the key signs of loneliness is a decrease in motivation at work. You might feel like despite having a long to-do list, you don’t have any energy or desire to get things done.

2. Getting stressed out easily 

We all get stressed from time-to-time, and workplace stress continues to be a major health concern in the UK. However, did you know that stress could also be a sign of loneliness and isolation?  
 
A study that analysed research from across a 40 year period showed that feelings of social isolation and loneliness can lead to an increase in stress hormones in the body. 

3. Feeling tired and lethargic often 

Often experiencing fatigue and tiredness – perhaps despite getting a good night’s sleep – can be an indication that you’re lonely or isolated.  
 
Studies have shown a strong link between loneliness and lack of good quality sleep, with those who are lonely far more likely to experience sleep fragmentation. 

4. A tendency to get sick 

If you are feeling lonely or isolated, you might be more susceptible to illnesses. This is due to changes in the body that weaken the immune system and increase inflammation in the body.  
 
If you’re often getting sick or feeling unwell, it might be a sign that you’re experiencing loneliness or isolation.

5. Experiencing burnout 

Burnout is what happens after a prolonged period of immense pressure at work, and is often a result of combination of both physical and mental stress. However, feeling burnt-out can also be due to loneliness.  
 
Going through a period of loneliness and isolation can make you more vulnerable to burnout. Interestingly too, chronic loneliness and burnout have similar symptoms: fatigue, illness, and stress. 

How to Combat Loneliness While Hybrid Working

Loneliness is completely normal, and something that everyone has experienced at some point in their lives.  

You can’t get rid of a problem by ignoring it and pushing it aside, but when you have identified the symptoms, you can work towards overcoming them. As so many of us are vulnerable to these feelings, what can we do to combat it?  

It takes a combination of using the right technology and prioritising your wellbeing.  

Here are 10 top ways to combat loneliness while hybrid working: 

1.  Schedule some time to chat to a colleague on Microsoft Teams (or other video call platform) about something that isn’t work related, to help make those important human connections.

 

2. Create an interest group with your colleagues to meet new people with similar interests, whether that’s a book club, film club, or fantasy football league. You could all use Yammer to stay connected and post updates.

 

 

3. Make a plan to meet, either with a colleague or friend, in person and work together for the day at a coffee shop or coworking space. 

 

4. Use the Praise feature in Microsoft Teams to show your appreciation for another colleague and drive positive workplace culture; this can also help to foster fantastic workplace relationships. 

 

5. Take advantage of the new flexible way to work – use the hours you don’t have to commute to socialise with friends, spend time with the kids, or go to the gym. 

 

6. Go into the office with a purpose, rather than going in ‘just because’ which can lead to you spending the day alone. If you know other people from your team are going to the office on a certain day, choose that day to go in as well, and make time for a lunch or coffee with colleagues. 

 

7. Create your own background noise when working from home with an uplifting playlist or podcast. Spotify even has its own Working From Home playlist to keep you motivated! 

 

8. Use the Focus Assist feature to avoid distractions, reduce notifications and prevent burnout. 

 

9. Access the Inspiration Library within Microsoft Viva Insights, where there is an entire catalogue of videos on various topics to help inspire, motivate and connect you. 

 

10. Join a virtual coworking space; a great alternative to in-person working. Virtual coworking can be done either with the colleagues at your company, or with remote workers from around the world. It takes the coworking concept and makes it virtual, and can be a fantastic solution for people who like the company of others while they’re working.

Loneliness in the hybrid workplace – inforgraphic

You can download this infographic by clicking the image below:

Signs of loneliness in the hybrid workplace infographic

Mental Health Awareness Week 2022

Loneliness is the theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, focussing on the impact that being lonely can have on our mental health and how we can combat it. We’ve put together a list of resources which include information on how you can find support and advice on managing mental health:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/  

https://www.mind.org.uk/  

https://www.mhm.org.uk/