Now that you either work remotely or in a hybrid working environment, you have probably experienced that something is missing. It is not an illusion.

Something IS missing. For many of us, our social connection with our team has drastically decreased since new ways of working were introduced during the Corona-virus pandemic. We may feel disengaged, uninterested, and just plain “bleh” in our remote or hybrid work routines. This is reflected in employee engagement statistics.

Globally, 80% of workers are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work (Gallup, 2021). A survey by CCS Insight (2021) found that 33% of employees rated feeling a lack of social interaction with colleagues as their biggest challenge with remote work. Their second biggest challenge, voted by 22% of respondents, was feeling disconnected from what was going on in their organisation.

Our brains are wired for social connection. Neuroscientists have found that oxytocin – known as the “love hormone” because of its role in mother-child and romantic attachments – is also released in group-based social connections. This then releases serotonin which activates the rewards circuits in our brain, making us feel happy.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors lived in small travelling groups. Feeling happy when connected to the group was key for the survival and development of humanity. Lone rangers wouldn’t have survived.

The same still holds true today. Humans need social connection – the subjective experience of feeling close to and supported by others. Social connection between members of work teams results in many benefits for the individuals and the organisation.

On the flip side is social isolation. It is the subjective experience of being isolated from and not belonging to a group due to perceived barriers, including physical distance, status difference, or feeling discriminated against. Social isolation brings many detriments to individuals and organisations.

In this article series, we will look at these benefits, detriments, and solutions so you can cultivate a strong, socially connected team and get those happy hormones activated again.

Click here to read the second article in the series.

By Elizabeth Ross

Sources:

CCS Insight. (2021). Angela Ashenden. Lack of Social Interaction Tops Remote Work Challenges. Retrieved from: https://www.cmswire.com/employee-experience/lack-of-social-interaction-tops-remote-work-challenges/

Cherry, K. (2021). What Is the Sense of Belonging? Verywell. Retrieved from: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-need-to-belong-2795393

Christopher Bergland. (2013). Psychology Today. The “Love Hormone” Drives Human Urge for Social Connection. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201309/the-love-hormone-drives-human-urge-social-connection

Gallup. (2021). Jim Harter. U.S. Employee Engagement Holds Steady in First Half of 2021. Retrieved from: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/352949/employee-engagement-holds-steady-first-half-2021.aspx

Houston, E. (2021). The Importance of Positive Relationships in the Workplace. PositivePsychology.com. Retrieved from: https://positivepsychology.com/positive-relationships-workplace/

Howatt, B. (2020). Understanding the differences between isolation and loneliness at work. The Globe and Mail. Retrieved from: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/business/careers/workplace-award/article-understanding-the-differences-between-isolation-and-loneliness-at-work/

Seppala, E. (2014). Connectedness & Health: The Science of Social Connection. The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Retrieved from: http://ccare.stanford.edu/uncategorized/connectedness-health-the-science-of-social-connection-infographic/

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