I believe there is an Isolation Epidemic: 47% of Americans feel detached, isolated, and alone. if you are standing in a room, next to someone, chances are it is you or it is them feeling disconnected. If we were not practicing, SIP, I would suggest giving each other a hug....
It is a global problem and the UK has even named a "Minister of Loneliness."
I am calling it the "Isolation Epidemic," and that is why I started The Kimberly Connection Company, Improving Connections Everywhere.
This issue stems from (1) a lack of traditional communities, (2) the proliferation of digital technology as a substitute for in person connection, and (3) the surge of remote workers.
I am focused on addressing this problem by helping educate and coach leaders to bridge the gap between leaders and their people. If I can coach more leaders to truly care and be connected to their teams, it will help individuals, and teams of people feel like they belong to something bigger themselves, feel valued and important, and know someone cares about them... i.e solutions to the isolation epidemic and combatting loneliness.
A Lack of Traditional Communities: Our newer generations today are not as apt to be part of larger communities such as church, neighborhoods (remember block parties), and other social communities.
If they are connecting it is more likely on Facebook groups, Instagram communities, and virtual chat rooms. Technology is a great asset in helping us to reach each other anytime anywhere, but it is no substitute for true human connection.
Because of our younger generations are not part of such communities as much, I want the work place to become the new "community place," and I help organizations and leaders achieve that for everyone's overall well being, happiness, and yes,...increased profits!
The Proliferation of Digital Technology: Studies show we need in person human connection just as much as we need food and drink. A recent WSJ article on the "Science of Connection" shared that though zoom is great tool to see others and to have conversations, while shelter in place during COVID- 19, it is not a substitute for the energy exchange that is generated in in person meetings.
The Article shared that a baby was spoken to for a period of time by their parent in a different language and ultimately learned the language. The same experiment was done with parent and child over zoom and the child learned nothing. I don't know about you, but after three zoom calls in a room I feel depleted. Why? because we are dumping all of our energy into an unresponsive computer screen that just absorbs our energy fails to positively give it back.
(I go in depth on the power of digital technology and the increase in depression and suicide since the development of the internet and smart phones, in chapter 3 of my book: Connections Change Everything. You can email me at KCC@Kimberly-Layne.com to get a complimentary copy of that chapter emailed to you. Just reference isolation epidemic in your email, or buy the book on Amazon).
The Surge of Remote Workers: Before the pandemic, Gallup showed about 5% of workers worked from home. Post the pandemic, studies are stating that based on historical trends, that if employees were already working remotely their frequency will increase post pandemic. If they are new to remote work because of the pandemic, their will be a big shift to allow for that flexibility. Studies state their best estimate is that 25-30% of the workforce will be working at home for multiple-days-a-week by the end of 2021 (https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/work-at-home-after-covid-19-our-forecast)
This is great from flexibility, reduction in commute, and time saver perspective, but if someone lives alone, and does not have a strong social network, zooming all day and phone calls with out true human contact can lead to depression, anxiety, and difficulty in getting work done. It is important to screen individuals in advance to ensure they have a strong social networks to replace the comraderie and community that occurs in the lunchroom, walking through the hall, or at the water cooler.
When we are able to return to our offices and "the new normal" which will most likely include more remote workers, I would recommend to require remote workers to come into the office once or twice a week, in order to ensure that social connection that is so important for attitude and productivity is instilled. Personal one on one conversations, weekly, between leaders and employees is a critical step to ensure employee's feel valued and engaged and to combat feelings of isolation. Right now, those one on one phone calls that ask "How are you doing?" and "How can I best help you during this time?," will go along way in demonstrating engaged leadership.
For more insight in building better connections between leaders and employees- even during our forced isolation epidemic, email me at email@example.com