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How to Combat Loneliness in Remote Workers
February 27, 2020
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By Deborah Frost, Chief Executive of Personal Group.

Loneliness is a growing problem and can be particularly acute among remote staff who are often working alone.

The traditional nine to five working day is over. More people are instead taking advantage of remote work and gig economy opportunities – enjoying greater flexibility and a better work/life balance. 

However, remote workers may go days without human connection and loneliness can creep in. More than nine million people in the UK (almost a fifth of the population) say they get lonely, according to the British Red Cross

Loneliness affects workers of all ages and younger generations are particularly affected. A survey by YouGov revealed that 31% of 18- to 24-year-olds feel lonely often or all the time. 

With working practices continuing to evolve, professional isolation is a growing risk. HR leaders need to find ways to engage a wide range of employees who are out on their own – whether that is by choice or by design. This is crucial to keep people happy and motivated. Here are some small changes that could make a big difference to the way your workforce feels.

Keep up the communications

Regular and improved communications can remind employees that they are part of something much bigger. Company announcements about flu jabs, events or employee celebrations can help to build connections. Making sure people understand they are part of a much wider supportive network. 

Tailor rewards

Employees craving social interaction might appreciate everyday discounts to eat out, go to the cinema or head to a tourist attraction with friends or family. Recognition for great work could also come in the form of an experience – bringing workers together to have fun and enjoy each other’s company. 

Tackle the stigma

There is, unfortunately, still some stigma around loneliness, and remote workers may not want to put their hand up to say that is how they are feeling. The issue can bubble under the surface and lead to talented staff leaving the business. Normalising it can encourage more people to ask for help (or just a friendly catch-up) when they need it. 

Establish an emergency line

Social isolation can have a negative impact on mental health. By offering easy access to an around-the-clock support line workers can get the right information when they need it most. They can talk openly about the way they feel and get free confidential advice on how to make a change. 

Invest in the face to face

Take advantage of opportunities for in-person connections. This could include company away days or technology training to make sure people are fully connected to the business. Benefits providers should also offer to take groups of individuals through the employee services available to them, face to face, to help them see the value of the benefits on offer and how they can make the most of them. 

Look after the whole person

A happier and more motivated workforce is good for business. But, ultimately, we are all human beings and want to take care of our people. No-one should have to suffer in silence. 

The new-look workforce deserves better support for social wellbeing. Forward-looking employers are stepping up and putting human connection first.

ESFA Update: 26 February 2020

Latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and further education providers.

Documents

ESFA Update further education: 26 February 2020

ESFA Update academies: 26 February 2020

ESFA Update local authorities: 26 February 2020

Details
Items for further education
Reminderthe deadline to submit the IFMC is Friday 28 February 2020
Information16 to 19 revenue funding allocation statements for 2020 to 2021
Informationadult funding allocations for the 2020 to 2021 funding year
Information2018 to 2019 list of declared subcontractors
Informationfinal qualification achievement rates (QAR) for 2018 to 2019
InformationEU exit update for apprenticeships
Informationupdate to ESFA intervention policy for apprenticeship training providers with low numbers of learners where Ofsted is unable to undertake a full inspection
Informationall apprenticeship starts to be through the apprenticeship service from 1 November 2020
Informationnew provider legal agreements – deadline Monday 6 April 2020
Informationupdate on provider roadshows
Informationimprovements to ‘Manage your apprentices’ in the apprenticeship service
Informationthe FE Choices learner satisfaction survey will launch this March
Informationconsultation on proposed changes to the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Items for academies
ActionTeachers’ Pensions – update your contact details online
Reminderacademy trusts to supply or update their contact details information
Informationfunding allocation statements for 2020 to 2021
Informationpupil premium conditions of grant for 2020 to 2021
Informationyear 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium: 2019 to 2020
Informationfree school meals supplementary grant 2019 to 2020
Informationconsultation on proposed changes to the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance
Your feedbacktell us about your challenges when buying everyday goods
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Your feedbackcan you help us to understand whether/how a public financial health measure of schools and academies could be useful to you?
Items for local authorities
Informationpupil premium conditions of grant for 2020 to 2021
Informationyear 7 literacy and numeracy catch-up premium: 2019 to 2020
Informationfree school meals supplementary grant 2019 to 2020
Informationsection 251 budget guidance for 2020 to 2021
Informationconsultation on proposed changes to the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance
Informationbenefit from the reduced cost of risk cover
Your feedbacktell us about your challenges when buying everyday goods
Your feedbackwe would welcome your feedback on a new online form to report extremism concerns
Your feedbackcan you help us to understand whether/how a public financial health measure of schools and academies could be useful to you?

Published 26 February 2020

ESFA Business Update – Issue 52 (February 2020)