Lonely at Work? Add Human Connection to Your Schedule

You’re not alone in feeling alone. Three in five adults reported feeling lonely, up 7% from 2018.
Natalia is a wellness and lifestyle writer and an enthusiastic Insight Timer user. Her work can be read in Forbes, Business Insider, Thrive Global and more. A former digital nomad, she is currently practicing staying in one place.
Natalia is a wellness and lifestyle writer and an enthusiastic Insight Timer user. Her work can be read in Forbes, Business Insider, Thrive Global and more. A former digital nomad, she is currently practicing staying in one place.

The very devices, messaging platforms and social networks once created to help connect us can actually disconnect us, which leads to a lack of inspiration when it comes to both work and socializing.

Take Zoom, for example. When lockdowns started worldwide, it was a new place to hang out and before long became the default. After repeatedly signing in to the same place for a meeting that ran in the same format, the presence of individuals dwindled. Zoom fatigue set in. 

‘Together’ Yet Alone: Why Connection with Others Counts

Sherry Turkle, a social scientist, psychologist, and the author of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other has spent decades studying our relationship with technology.

  1. Managing Frustration With Technology Robert Plotkin 7:00

Read more: Could you benefit from a social media break?

In her TED Talk “Connected, but alone,” she says:

“People want to be with each other, but also elsewhere — connected to all the different places they want to be … I’m not suggesting that we turn away from our devices, just that we develop a more self-aware relationship with them, with each other and with ourselves.”

Turkle gave this talk in 2012, but it’s just as true today, if not more so.

“Loneliness and disconnection lead to many ill effects, including anxiety, depression, increased stress, poorer sleep quality, and lower engagement and productivity,” career coach and Insight Timer teacher Frani Heyns tells us. 

Conversely, a Harvard Health study shows that people who have satisfying connections with others are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer. And additional research shows that employees at companies with a ‘connected culture’ are twice as likely to be productive.

Ways to Authentically Connect With Colleagues

“We rush from one online meeting to the next and there’s little time to ask someone about their day or weekend, as we would normally do in the office,” says Heyns. In the age of virtual offices, bringing back the team spirit requires intention. Heyns offers suggestions for connecting with colleagues:

  • Begin meetings with a group meditation, or listening to the same music track
  • Start post-work hobby clubs such as cooking, gardening, or meditation
  • Liven up meetings with dedicated time for non-work-related topics such as:
    • What did you want to be growing up and why?
    • What is your ultimate travel destination and why?
    • If you had all the time and money in the world, what would you be doing right now?
  • Break up a big Zoom meeting into breakout rooms. Better yet, ditch Zoom for interactive video platforms like Icebreaker and Hopin.
  • Ask a colleague you don’t know well to brainstorm together — or have virtual coffee; it’s as simple as sending a message to them.
  • Become a mentor (or mentee): reach out to new hires, your alma mater or explore a volunteer program in your field.
  • Use networking platforms, such as LinkedIn and Meetup.com, to connect with like-minded individuals/groups; you can find others in your field, as well as those who share your interests. You can even use Insight Timer Circles to connect with book clubs and meditation groups.
  • Create your own mastermind or accountability group, suggests Laura Vanderkam, writer, speaker, and author of The New Corner Office: How the Most Successful People Work from Home. “If you work for yourself and don’t have ‘colleagues,’ you can create some with people whose work you respect,” she tells Insight Timer. “Then get together regularly to check in and cheer each other on.”

Sure, the ideas above require effort and may feel awkward, but the benefits you bring to yourself and your new connections can change the trajectory of your life. You never know who you will meet!

Heyns says she lives by Tom Ford’s philosophy: “The most important things in life are the connections you make with others.” And we couldn’t agree more.

  1. Lovingkindness Meditation Sharon Salzberg 15:00
  2. A Hug Meditation: Love Is Not Locked Down Clare McGregor 7:30
  3. Recognising Human Connection Vidyamala Burch 12:00

Read more: How meditation increases confidence. 

Meditation. Free.