From those fresh out of school, to those just switching departments, a new job is pretty scary. New people, new responsibilities, a new photocopier to try and work out; it’s overwhelming to say the least. But a new problem is starting to rear its head in the office.
42% of the British workforce claim they don’t have a close friend at work, so if you’re feeling isolated at work, don’t worry – you aren’t alone, ironically. This is a brand new concept called ‘workplace loneliness’.
Aside from this isolation possibly causing some damage to your mental health, it could also be damaging your company. When we remove camaraderie and motivation from the mix, getting your tasks done is a greater challenge. Better yet, if the office isn’t silent, and is crammed with extroverts, being an introvert can lead you to the same end.
Why we feel so isolated at work
The way we work has changed. Our careers are fluid, and shift at the drop of a hat. Hot desking and freelance are this year’s career buzzwords, and this is why we aren’t best friends with Karen from marketing.
According to Intuit – a technology company – 40 percent of us will be freelancing, and most of us will be our own boss by 2020. So if there’s no desk to stay chained to, how can we find our tribe?
Yet it doesn’t stop with working from home. If our older relatives don’t say it enough at Christmas, then this will; we spend far too long staring at our phones. With Facebook and Linked In the new conference rooms, we can all too easily skip out on actual human contact.
The same goes for scrolling through our emails – instead of getting up and walking over to someone’s desk, we ping them a message. And when we finally take a break, instead of having a coffee with a colleague, we opt for checking Twitter.
If you’re relating too hard, here’s all the ways you can stop feeling isolated at work.
Why you should be breaking the ice
We never lose the start of school blues, do we? The fear of talking to new people, with their own friendship bubble we wouldn’t comprehend of popping. But workplace loneliness serves as a danger for others, and well as your own, mental health.
The Jo Cox Commission revealed that 9 million people here in the UK are affected by feeling isolated at work. And while loneliness isn’t only detrimental to our minds, it is also proven to increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.
Plus, when we have mate only a few chairs down, we are more likely to feel a part of a team. You’ll feel loyal to your company, and boost your productivity, taking your career trajectory to a level that you couldn’t do alone.
While starting the conversation might seem an overwhelming feat, ending the silence is a two way street; as much as you talk, someone will respond. It’ll only take a few first words to get a convo on the go.
The fact is, if you want to be a part of it, you have to make the first move.
What you can do to stop the silence
It’s fair to say that we aren’t all pros when it comes to social skills – but there are tried and tested methods that can include all your colleagues to make your work environment that little bit friendlier.
It starts with the small things; saying ‘good morning’ is guaranteed to yield a return, and will disturb the stony silence that keeps you feeling isolated at work.
Better yet, skip sending an email and actually tell them what you were planning to type out. It puts a name to a face, and might spark the small talk we are all craving.
Alternatively, you could take your work home with you. But don’t worry, it’s more exciting than it sounds; consider joining the group activities your coworkers take part in! Whether it’s fun runs, or something a little less physical, you can break through the awkwardness of the workplace.
Or, if you’re the boss, schedule frequent meetings to bring the team together. Actual human contact goes much further than an ignored email, and keeps those cogs ticking.
It’s not easy speaking up, but think of it as this: workplace loneliness is experienced by countless others. In fact, your coworkers are probably sharing the same sentiment. We all want someone else to come over and offer to pop the kettle on. So why not earn some serious karma and stop feeling isolated at work?
You might not boost the office banter overnight, but you might not be quite as lonely.