For many people working from home is a dream come true. More sleep, money saved on commutes and a better work-life balance are just some of the benefits it brings. Whilst we might be more productive and comfortable working from home, it can sometimes get a little lonely and we can all feel subject to cabin fever when surrounded by the same four walls.
If any of your workforces are hybrid or fully remote it’s incredibly important that you make an effort to support and connect your employees so that they don’t become isolated. In this blog post, we’ll be taking a look at the impact of feeling disconnected at work and some fun activities you can do to connect your teams.
Working From Home and Feeling Disconnected
But do workers actually feel disconnected? Yes, and the statistics might shock you. Research by HowNow discovered that over two-thirds of workers (67%) feel ‘disconnected’ from their colleagues and 42% feel ‘lonely’ at work. The respondents said that this is having a negative impact not only on the way they view their job but also on their mental health.
Feeling lonely can have a huge impact on the well-being of your workers and will have a huge effect on how they approach their job role and their attitude towards the company. Let’s explore this a little deeper…
Impact of Feeling Disconnected at Work
When employees feel disconnected at work, if the problem persists it can have a huge impact on your employees and in turn, has a ripple effect on your teams and the whole organisation…
Anxiety & Depression
Anxiety and depression at work can be caused by loneliness and feelings of stress and burnout. So it’s scary to know that nearly half (47%) of remote workers experience anxiety and two thirds say that it has impacted their productivity. As well as this, 52% of workers reported feelings of depression with 46% experiencing panic attacks. If workers are feeling anxious or depressed it will be incredibly hard for them to concentrate and put effort into their work.
Reduction in Employee Engagement
When employees feel disconnected and isolated at work it can lead to a big reduction in employee engagement. California State University found that loneliness can have a negative influence on workers' commitments to their workplace and on job performance. When workers feel lonely they’ll feel that their workplace isn’t meeting their needs and will be less likely to invest themselves in the organisation and their job role.
High Employee Turnover
Workers who experience loneliness experience a lot of stress-related to absenteeism, and the lack of support and lack of meaningful connection at work can increase the risk of burnout. In fact, workers are five times more likely to miss work due to stress and lonely workers think about changing their jobs twice as much as connected colleagues, meaning high employee turnover rates.
So how can we make workers who are feeling disconnected, feel connected and part of a team? Workers who feel isolated might not want to even mention that they’re struggling and therefore it is up to leaders to create an environment that is inclusive and friendly.
Leaders must promote a healthy work culture of companionship and community where connecting and building work relationships is the norm as well as encouraging employees to look after their health and wellbeing and prioritise their relationship with work to make it a balanced one.
Top 5 Virtual Team Building Activities
Having virtual team building activities can make those employees who are remote feel as connected as teams in the office who see each other regularly. Taking half an hour or an hour out of someone’s week to incorporate joy and connection into their day can make all the difference in their connection to the organisation and encourage them to make personal connections.
Here are our top 5 virtual team building activities you should try out…
Online Office Games
Online office games are a great way to virtually engage your employees and are a great chance to have a lot of fun and laughter. All you need to do is schedule a meeting with either zoom or teams or host a virtual event through your intranet and pick a fun group game or challenge. Team Building actually hosts an official Team Building Online Office Game event for a fee which provides a dedicated 90 minute team building session for your organisation.
But if you’re looking for some free ideas here are some tried and tested favourites:
- Virtual Team Building Bingo
- Bob Ross Painting Classes
- Murder Mystery
- Food experiences
- Virtual Escape Rooms
Sharing (Pets) Is Caring
Everyone loves animals. So why not do a ‘bring your pet to work day’?! A big benefit of working from home is the amount of time people can now spend with their pets so why not have a dedicated day where employees introduce their pets, and share photos and stories of their furry friends?! It’s a great way to get to know who people are outside of their work lives and meet new members of their ‘family’!
Why not create a hub on your intranet where employees can post daily updates of their pets to keep everyone entertained.
Typing Speed Race
Competitive sports, but make it virtual… Typing speed races is a brilliant free game to play to really ramp up the competitive spirit and have a laugh with your colleagues. Try and type out what you say as fast as you can without making any mistakes to win the race. If you want to make it extra competitive you could always up the stakes with prizes for certain spaces or the loser has to buy a round at the next work social event.
DIY Craft Challenge
This one is a fun one! Set aside half an hour to an hour - depending on how creative you want to get… Create a video call, share the rules and then start the timer. Every person on the call must build something in the allocated amount of time from materials available at home. The opportunities are endless from creating pasta art to poems or songs to forts or collages. Decide as a team and let the creativity flow!
Live Remote Co-Working
Virtual co-working is the perfect solution for combatting the effects of loneliness for those who work fully remote or hybrid. It allows people to experience the elements of collaboration and community whilst still working from the comfort of their own homes and remaining productive.
Why not ask your employees if they would enjoy having co-working sessions once or twice a week? Then if there is interest, set up a regular meeting at the same time each week or a hub for those interested in virtual coworking so that they can arrange co-working sessions themselves.
A bit of company and conversation can be the difference to someone’s day and by giving people the opportunity to connect even when they’re working from home will encourage your team to collaborate and create connections.
Just because people choose to work from home we shouldn’t make the assumption that they’re completely happy. As remote workers are at higher risk of loneliness and issues associated with isolation, as a company you need to make sure you’re doing everything you can to ensure your employees are connected, engaged and happy.