How to Combat Loneliness

In a Lonely World and Workplace...

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My company, BizON, was born in the digital era, an era that embraces mobility and remote working. I knew for certain that this was the future and it’s always wise to bet on the future because we are never moving backwards. Because of this, I focused on building out operational principles, processes and company values for managing a team and business from anywhere in the world. This has huge benefits, however, with most things that are great there are some hidden concerns if not addressed properly.

There’s no doubt that there is a rising epidemic of workplace loneliness, in a world of instant gratification and remotely seeing how “friends” are living their life. There is no need to lift your head or physically see people, and as humans this is a huge problem as we are innately social beings; beings that are driven to invent, innovate, create and socialize. Therefore, the real question is – can loneliness pose a threat to the productivity and growth of businesses and people? I think so…

Fortune Magazine shared a nationwide survey conducted by Health insurer Cigna of 20,000 adults and found that 54% of respondents said they feel like no one actually knows them well.  Additionally, 56% of people said the people they surround themselves with “are not necessarily with them,” and approximately 40% said they “lack companionship,” their “relationships aren’t meaningful,” and that they feel “isolated from others.”

Moreover, I asked my social followers the following question, to see the reality of this situation: “Do you ever feel lonely?” Here were the results:

  • Instagram: 61% yes
  • Facebook: 40% yes
  • Twitter: 78% yes
  • Combined average of 60% stating that “yes” they feel lonely!

Combating loneliness allows you to stay positive, be creative and think cohesively as a team and business.

As a CEO, team GM or small business owner, you need to tackle this carefully. You need to embrace the way the “new” workforce expects to work – flex hours, remote, mobile etc. However, you need to ensure your workforce doesn’t feel isolated or lonely. Remember, the very definition of a business is a group of people getting together to achieve a common goal; therefore, everyone must feel connected and know that they are part of something bigger than themselves. Also, most people are taking the advice of “living in the moment” a bit too literal. I think living in the moment is great, but their needs to be balance. You need to create a strong footing in your business that provides your workforce with long-term direction; something that enables them to find their calling within your organization; and something that wakes them up every day, keeping them engaged and connected. They must be constantly reminded of what they are part of – and that is a live, breathing community adding value to the world.

In Italian culture, there is something called “la voglia” – the want or drive for something. You need to constantly tap into their “voglia” to ensure they feel connected regardless of where they are. And by doing this, I truly believe that you will find authentic, disciplined, hard working people. Here is how I do this within my organization:

  1. I encourage my team to create a personal brand, a brand that states who they are, what they represent and how they contribute to the business.
  2. I encourage my team to stay super active in the community (online or offline), by finding a voice and having meaningful business conversations.
  3. I encourage my team to give back to the community, whether volunteering, donating or tapping into a special hobby.
  4. I relentlessly and consistently stick to routines of weekly calls and monthly meetings – never missing them to ensure we are aligned, connected and accountable.
  5. I leverage technology in order to ensure communication doesn’t skip a beat.
  6. I implore them to get out! Even if they work from home, there is no problem with working from a café or a co-working space so they are able to interact with others.
  7. As a team we revisit our vision, mission, values and principles monthly and audit our market using my S.E.T Model (social trends, economic trends, technology trends) quarterly.
  8. Lastly (and most importantly), I encourage my team to balance their screen time by disconnecting and focusing on quality time with family and friends.

I’ll end this with a powerful statement taken from an article I recently read from Michael Slind and Boris Groysberg:

“Physical proximity between leaders and employees isn’t always feasible. But mental or emotional proximity is essential.”

Are you or your business at risk of loneliness? How do you combat this? Share, comment and like!

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