Helping remote workers combat loneliness

Helping remote workers combat loneliness

23 Nov 2020

Beam Development and Training Ltd

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This informal CPD article on Helping remote workers combat loneliness was provided by Lianne Weaver of Beam Development and Training, a provider of courses designed to help employers and employees take responsibility for their wellbeing.

When you ask an employee or a colleague how they are, how often does someone reply that they’re feeling lonely?

Probably very rarely – maybe never. Yet loneliness is so widespread that we might even describe it as an epidemic. In fact, earlier this year The Mental Health Foundation reported that a survey of UK adults which took place during the first lockdown showed that 24% said they had feelings of loneliness in the previous two weeks.

But generally we are very reluctant to admit to being lonely, because often we tell ourselves it’s because we are doing something wrong, and we feel ashamed.

With a further lockdown in place in England and varying restrictions operating across the rest of the UK, how can we support our team members to recognise, acknowledge and deal with loneliness?

What is loneliness?

Humans are social animals, hard-wired to connect with other human beings. When we were living in tribes it was essential that we worked as a community, all working together to create one strong collective. Getting separated from this community would have been very dangerous indeed.

Loneliness is an important evolutionary mechanism. It is a signal our brain sends to let us know that something is wrong. It works much like hunger. If you hadn’t eaten for a day or two, your brain would be sending signals which would be physically painful, and would lead you to fulfil that need by eating. Loneliness works in exactly the same way. It’s a feeling which is intended to make us realise that we’re lacking something, because social connection is one of the most important core needs we have.

How it makes us feel.

All too often we don’t recognise loneliness as a sign that we need to fulfil a basic need. We tell ourselves there must be something wrong with us. We may feel ashamed, and we may start to retreat and avoid people even more. We don’t admit to it, we don’t open up to friends, family, colleagues, or seek support.
In reality most of us will experience loneliness at some point, whether because of bereavement, a change of circumstances – or of course something unusual like a lockdown. It’s an epidemic, but thankfully this is one which, working together, we can make an impact on quickly.

What to do.

So as we head into a challenging winter it’s important that we play our part in the workplace to combat loneliness. We can equip leaders with the knowledge needed to start a conversation about loneliness, and in turn empower colleagues to deal more effectively with it when it arises.

  • The most important step is to acknowledge that you’re feeling lonely. We can all work together to help everyone realise there’s no shame in feeling lonely – and in fact most of us will feel lonely at some point. Talking about it in the workplace will help highlight it as the epidemic it is.
  • Encourage colleagues to sit with the emotions around loneliness and try to determine what triggers them. Working out the root cause can help you identify a solution.
  • One of the best antidotes to feeling lonely is to focus on other people. Helping someone else, for example a neighbour with their shopping, can help change this.
  • Practice gratitude. Focus your mind on what you do have, and start to regain control of your thoughts. This can be a small thing, and it helps if you do this practice each day, focusing on something – or a series of small things – specific to that day.
  • Learn new skills. Joining a class or doing a course, even if online, can boost your self-confidence.
  • Foster your current relationships. If you’re feeling lonely, the chances are your inner critic is telling you that everything about your life is bad. But if there are people in your life who make you feel good reach out to them and nurture that relationship.
  • Do one unexpected act of kindness every day. Research shows that doing this can lead to higher levels of wellbeing and lower levels of loneliness.

If you’re really struggling with loneliness and these tips aren’t making a difference, seek professional help, for example from your GP or your employee assistance program if one is in place.

We hope this article was helpful. For more information from Beam Development and Training, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

Beam Development and Training Ltd

Beam Development and Training Ltd

For more information from Beam Development and Training Ltd, please visit their CPD Member Directory page. Alternatively please visit the CPD Industry Hubs for more CPD articles, courses and events relevant to your Continuing Professional Development requirements.

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