Collective loneliness in an age of hybrid working

Loneliness: it’s a feeling we’ve all experienced, but one we rarely discuss. Though conversations around mental health have peaked in recent years, there remains a stigma around the term. We believe if we are lonely that we are unlikeable or broken in some way.

Research has shown that loneliness stems from a lack of connection in at least one of three areas: intimate loneliness – longing for a partner with whom you share a deep bond, social loneliness – the need for quality friendships, and collective loneliness – the yearning for a community or network of likeminded people. Provided that we’ve spent the last few years in varying levels of isolation, it’s no surprise we’re now battling a loneliness epidemic.

To combat it, we need to work harder to forge the meaningful, human connection that we all crave. This is particularly true in a time of hybrid working, to focus on restoring the social and collective connections we’ve lost. There are two sides to this coin: firstly, fostering a supportive environment where employees feel safe to share their issues and concerns surrounding mental health, and secondly, implementing initiatives that promote connectivity.

Here are some of the ways we’re facing loneliness together at Incite, this Mental Health Awareness month and beyond.

1 / Opening the lines of communication

To enforce our positive stance on mental health, we regularly remind our team of the resources available to them – including taking mental health days, seeking talking therapies through our health provider, and speaking to one of our several Mental Health First Aiders. To go a step further, this month we’ll be taking a temperature check of our mental health across the business. Through conducting an anonymous survey, we can further identify and address any blind spots or areas for improvement.

2 / Inclusive interventions

A few months ago, we hosted an internal ‘million steps challenge’ to encourage Inciter’s to step away from their desks and embrace the mental health benefits that getting outside offers. Though this was widely well received, recent feedback alerted us to the potential triggering effects such an initiative might have. So, this month we’re hosting a ‘20,000-minute challenge’ that focuses solely on spending time in the outdoors – whatever the activity – due to its innumerable benefits. Crucially it helps to reduce loneliness through connecting to the local community and providing peer support. A joint initiative across our UK and US teams, we will donate money to the Samaritans should we make the target, as an incentive for us all to take part in whichever way we can.

3 / Working 9-5, connecting 1-1.15

In his book ‘Together’ Vivek Murthy suggests that spending a quarter of an hour each day connecting with loved ones can help combat to the loneliness crisis we’re experiencing. To promote the importance of this idea, we’re encouraging our teams to build 15-minute calendar holds into their daily schedule to facilitate and encourage the much needed, dedicated time for connection.

For further insight into recognising and supporting someone who may be lonely, check out the Samaritans page here. We welcome any thoughts and would love to hear about the initiatives you’re implementing, do get in touch.