How to Decrease Loneliness in Remote Employees

Article

For all of the benefits of remote work (more flexibility, no commuting, time with family, the ability to work anywhere, etc.), there’s one big challenge that even the most successful remote companies struggle with: loneliness.

Airbnb’s CEO said that the most dangerous part of remote work isn’t productivity; it’s employees feeling lonely. Research has found that full-time remote work can increase loneliness substantially.

Does that mean that remote work is too risky, and employers should steer clear? No. It only means that employers need to dedicate more resources to making their employees feel like they have a community. 

Here are six ways to create community in your team, and reduce feelings of loneliness. 

Make time for connection, all the time. 

At every twine company meeting, we start or end with six minutes of speed networking. Our CEO uses our own Zoom App, twine for Zoom, to send us all into three-minute-long rounds of timed, back-to-back Breakout Room conversations with our coworkers. We never know who we’re going to get matched with, but no matter who we end up speaking with, our team always comes back smiling. It energizes us and allows us to focus on our work while still making time for connection.

Here’s how to do the same with your team

Incorporate fun activities into your team’s routine.

This doesn’t mean throwing your team into a virtual happy hour and hoping that they bond. Here are ten creative ways to host a virtual activity with your remote team. Whether it’s playing virtual mafia, giving each other Google Street View Tours, or guessing baby photos, there are tons of silly ways to get your team laughing and connecting.

Make your employees feel celebrated. 

Birthdays aren’t the only time to celebrate your employees (but when it is their birthday, here are some ideas). Make your employees feel appreciated year round by creating a Slack channel or Teams chat for colleague shoutouts, highlighting employees on a monthly social spotlight, or giving out fun superlatives at the end of the year. When employees feel appreciated and can participate in the appreciation of others, it brings them closer as a group.

Hold occasional employee offsites. 

Offsites are expensive. But holding quarterly or even annual in-person gatherings can truly help when it comes to building community. It gives employees time to connect and reflect, and feel like their team is a little more real. Not convinced on the power of offsites? Check out this article.

Disclaimer: this doesn’t mean relying entirely on offsites! Connection needs to be a priority during all the moments in between, too. 

Sponsor employee meetups when possible.

Think about this: who doesn’t want a free lunch? Sponsoring employee get-togethers is another somewhat expensive solution, but it’s one of the most effective ways to encourage employees to take the initiative in meeting one another. Consider allocating a certain amount of monthly dollars that employees can use for meetups with one another. Whether they live in the same city or happen to be passing though, your team members will be encouraged to meet each other IRL.

Create a travel calendar. 

One of the best parts about remote work is the ability to work from anywhere. If your employees skew nomadic, create a shared travel calendar (in Notion, Google Calendar, or a Slack channel) where employees can see if they’ll be crossing paths with one another. 

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While some of the ideas above require more funds than others, making time for connection doesn’t have to be expensive. There are tons of ways to reduce employee loneliness that require just a little effort– and if that means retaining employees, then that effort is well worth it.

Looking for an easy, cheap way to help your employees feel less lonely? twine for Zoom is free for up to five participants. Try it out at your next team meeting!

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