Seeking authentic connection at work

by Little BIG

Have you noticed that bringing people together at work has become challenging? A recent article in the Wall Street Journal by Te-Ping Chen explored the loneliness experienced by workers in America. Little BIG’s Good Work program found that it is not dissimilar here in Australia.

In the U.S…

  • More than 40% of fully remote workers in the U.S. said they go days without leaving the house.
  • Those who work in the office spend nearly a quarter of their time in virtual meetings, while face-to-face meetings account for only 8% of their time.
  • Americans have tripled the time spent in meetings since 2020
  • 68% said they knew their co-workers on a personal level, down from 79% five years ago
  • The number of U.S. adults who call themselves lonely has climbed to 58% from 46% in 2018, according to a recent Cigna poll of 10,000¬†Americans.

Shaklee, a nutrition supplements company in Pleasanton, California, talks about how their 150-strong staff loved attending annual Earth Day gatherings, office happy hours, bowling outings, and “mix and mingles.” These events were a hit, fostering camaraderie and a strong sense of community. But now, with remote work becoming the norm, things have changed. Last year, despite most employees living nearby, only 20 showed up for the Earth Day event. Jonathan Ramot, Shaklee’s North American human resources director, put it bluntly: “We have a lot of people asking for in-person events, but when we plan them, they don’t show up. Then they complain they’re lonely.” It’s a tricky situation many companies are facing and one which many business feel ill-prepared to handle.

Here in Australia, the 2023 Good Works report, which polled 300 workers in offices around the country, showed that 62 per cent of women and one in three people between 26 and 34 felt lonely at work. Sydney’s CBD, Whitney Duan, Actuaries Institute’s partnerships manager, has felt more connected with her colleagues after participating in one of Little BIG’s events. Read more here.

We all crave face-to-face interaction, even in our virtual meeting-dominated world. Shaklee’s experience, alongside the findings in Little BIG’s projects, shows that while remote work is convenient and flexible, it can only partially replace the value of personal connections. However, personal connections need to be authentic. We can feel the difference. Finding ways to bring people together meaningfully is essential for keeping that sense of community alive. Companies that make an effort to bring people together will likely see happier, more engaged teams.

If you’re seeking effective strategies to foster a connected and engaged workforce, consider exploring the Little BIG Foundation’s Good Work program. This initiative is specifically designed to assist asset owners in creating meaningful interactions and cultivating robust, supportive communities within the workplace, beyond one organisation and into the entirety of the workplace community.

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