If COVID has taught us anything, it is that loneliness can no longer be ignored – it is a social health priority and one in which landlords have a unique role to play.
The recent national survey ‘State of the Nation Report’ found that almost 1 in 3 Australians feel lonely and that loneliness does not discriminate between age, gender or life stage. We used to think loneliness was a problem for teenagers yet to join the workforce or retirees who may have lost their connection with their former colleagues. That is just not the case, it affects us all.
Several studies show that an average Australian spends approximately 80-100% of their time indoors, which means real estate managers are uniquely positioned to engage tenants and bring them together to address the issue. With the success of the Little BIG Foundation’s work at The Little BIG House in Summer Hill, it is now time to apply the learnings to EG’s commercial assets.
The Good Work program addresses loneliness by engaging with tenants of EG’s office buildings to understand their community, identifying community leaders and executing meaningful events that drive connections between people who work across the building.
Loneliness in the workplace can be a significant problem with various implications for both employees and employers. From reduced productivity, resistance to change, impact on collaboration and potential negative outcomes on a company or building culture, reducing loneliness is not just a problem for governments or the social sector to address.
The Good Work program is aimed at understanding each community and designing events that best drive engagement. We surveyed, interviewed, and held focus groups to learn more about our tenants.
The results show that food was the way to the hearts of our tenants. The survey found that 69% of tenants sought events around ‘food and drink experiences’.
|FOOD AND DRINK
|HEALTH AND FITNESS
|SELF-CARE AND WELLNESS
|BUSINESS AND NETWORKING
Make Food + Make Friends
The centrepiece of our first inaugural event within commercial assets was a series of cooking (and eating) lunch break activities. This shared experience created a relaxed but structured environment in which people could meet. The ice was broken over the breaking of bread, and the activity required teamwork, collaboration and plenty of conversation starters. Tenants across a number of EG’s assets met one another, ate good food and had conversations that would not have otherwise encountered.
It was a great success, with tenants coming along during their lunch break to sit alongside familiar faces from the building lift or foyer. Conversations revolved around the food, from dietary choices to the abilities (or inabilities) of creating a Vietnamese Banh Mi, Spanish Empanada or Colombian Arepa.
The relationships held throughout the workday don’t need to be solely within the organisation where a person works but can be across businesses and the wider community. It was an honour to have our event embraced by tenants who gave up their free time to engage and connect, and we can’t wait to do it all again soon.
About the Little BIG Foundation
Little BIG is a not-for-profit social movement that fosters deep and personal connections established by EG to counter loneliness.
It started with the Little BIG House at the Flour Mill in Summer Hill, a shared space that welcomes residents to engage and connect in their home community. Here, dedicated volunteers facilitate events to unite like-minded residents and build long-term friendships. In addition, Little BIG now activates the communities at several office buildings around the country.
The Foundation has had an overwhelmingly positive response, with 73% of people who attended a small group program in the Summer Hill Little BIG House in 2023 reporting that they made a new friend or connection.
Little BIG has a vision for happier, healthier and kinder communities where humans can form deep connections.