21. Isolation-Loneliness in the Workplace

At a time when we’re connected to each other 24/7, many workers report feeling isolated, lonely and lacking genuine connection. In fact this reality so common that researchers have begun calling it a, “Loneliness Epidemic.” The antidote: Human-to-human connection.


Social interaction at work is incredibly important, yet many people feel the effects of workplace isolation. In this episode of Crina and Kirsten Get to Work, our hosts discuss the loneliness epidemic that is impacting hundreds of thousands of workers. Isolation in the workplace can be subtle or severe, but in either case, the effects are significant. Isolation triggers the same parts of the brain that are triggered by physical pain, which means it makes folks feel real bad – and that is not what we want in the place we spend much of our waking hours.

Isolation can occur because of how your work space is oriented, because you are the “only” (whether you are the only sales person on a team of engineers, the only person with children or maybe the only person who is not a gamer), because the workplace culture supports it – or maybe just because the people you work with are jerks. You may be the boss or you may work remotely. All of this contributes to being isolated from others. We know the importance of friendship in the workplace and how it contributes to your workplace satisfaction and productivity. Isolation is just the opposite of those yummy, fuzzy, fun friend feelings.

So what can you DO about it . . .

  • Recognize your own feelings
  • Recognize that you need connections outside of the office to fill those relationship needs Make dates for coffee or lunch with coworkers
  • Join and volunteer for projects and activities that are outside of your normal work
  • Work in a different space if your office allows for it – you are more likely to run into people Take breaks in the break room
  • Get to know a senior person
  • And keep your sense of humor – sometimes the feelings of isolation can be self-perpetuating.

Crina and Kirsten tell personal stories about their own experiences with isolation and how they have addressed it in their own work lives.


No more odd one out: What causes isolation at work

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