Lockdown loneliness strikes UK workers as we continue with remote working practices.
The Rise of Lockdown Loneliness
There is another pandemic on the rise; new data from TotalJobs reports that 46% of UK workers have experienced loneliness in lockdown. A staggering 94% of workers say isolation has negatively impacted their mental health Despite many companies favouring remote working practices in the near future, the lack of social interaction is having a detrimental impact on many workers. As we adjust to the “new normal”, it bears questioning how we could curb these negative effects.
How Social Isolation is Impacting the Nation
The survey looked at lockdown loneliness and its impact across 2,000 UK workers. Two fifths of workers (41%) said it negatively impacted their sleeping habits, nearly a quarter (24%) on their living arrangements, 37% on stress levels, 33% on their self esteem and 30% on their eating habits.
The impact of lockdown loneliness has also highlighted some pre-existing imbalances in the UK workforce. Women were more prone to loneliness and disrupted sleep patterns. This could reflect greater trends between women and men since lockdown. Namely, women are reportedly more likely to lose their jobs during lockdown. They also have greater demands regarding childcare and domestic work.
However, the most impacted group is the UK’s younger generation of workers [18-38]. Although supposedly the most digitally savvy, this group reported the highest rate of lockdown loneliness due to remote working (74%).
The End of “Water-Cooling Chat”
For many, the office was not only a place to work but a source of regular social interaction. With many company cultures adopting team activities, social events and sports clubs, the office was another social hub for many across the UK. In fact, 52% of workers agree that the majority of their daily social interactions happened in the workplace. Many reported keenly feeling a lack of “water-cooling chat” with the switch over to full-time remote working. For those working from home, 67% say lockdown has reduced the variety of their daily social interactions. A further 49% report completely losing contact with colleagues with whom they normally interact with on a regular basis.
On a wider scale, these issues can negatively impact overall workplace efficiency. 49% of those surveyed reported worrying about interrupting colleagues working from home. Over a third said that they struggle to ask for help for things which normally they would ask face-to-face. More worryingly, only 1 in 10 felt comfortable bringing up the topic of lockdown loneliness with fellow colleagues.
Across the board, UK workers are finding it hard to come forward and address this important issue with their employers. Amongst those who’ve felt lonely, over a third (39%) haven’t confided in anyone, with only 1 in 10 (10%) wanting to bring up the topic of loneliness with colleagues in their team. Going forward, Job Expert Stephen Warnham, states that the employers have a responsibility to increase the social confidence of staff. He suggests that employers “prioritise and maintain those important everyday social factors that make coming to work enjoyable, engaging and rewarding”.