• Patrick McAndrew

Isolation in the Workplace

Feeling Isolated At Work

My wonderful fiancé recently told me about a guy that she believed I would take a lot of interest in. And boy was she right!

Dan Schawbel is a New York Times best-selling author and also does about a hundred other different things. His newest book, Back To Human, was just published yesterday and talks about how technology has negatively affected our interpersonal relationships in the workplace. In the Big Think video below, Schawbel discusses how workplaces are becoming more and more isolated in our digital world and how co-workers are feeling less connected to one another as they spend more time on their phones and via email.

This saddens me, but, alas, it is the norm. Many productivity experts will state that it is highly beneficial to work through lunch and eat at your desk. They claim that you get a lot more work done this way and you can gain a full hour of your day that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Because of this, and because of our “always-on” mentality, lunch breaks are becoming more and more a thing of the past.

The Lunch Break

When I was working in an office setting, my co-workers could always count on me to be down for lunch. I would often go to everyone’s individual office and say, “Hey! You down for lunch?” with a friendly point of enthusiasm. “Hey, so and so are grabbing lunch. You in?” While this enthusiasm for lunch and hanging out could’ve nagged a few of my fellow co-workers, I knew that there was something vitally important about this time.

As I began studying productivity and effective time management, many of the gurus looked down on the lunch hour, as I discussed before. I began questioning, “Was I doing the right thing? Always being enthusiastic about lunch time and connecting with my fellow worker bees?”

In our digital age today, and, looking back now, I do not believe I was in the wrong at all. It was during those lunch breaks that we, as a team, got to learn more about each other. Our guard was let down and we were able to talk about our interests, our plans for the weekend, and just goof off and have fun. This type of behavior may look like a bunch of poppycock to the workaholic stickler who doesn’t understand the value of interpersonal relationships, but to those looking for satisfaction and fulfillment in their jobs, it can make all the difference.

Making A Change

Something needs to be done about workplace isolation. It is crippling employees and businesses. If we create an environment that is nurturing and inviting, the likelihood that employees will do better at their jobs will increase exponentially because they will be excited and happy to be there. They will feel connected to their peers and therefore connected to the mission of the business.

I have already ordered a copy of Schawbel’s Back To Human. I’m looking forward to reading it because I know it will provide an immense amount of insight into how to improve workplace relationships in the digital age. We must facilitate conversation and connection and strive to enjoy each other’s company. If corporations and other work environments start valuing this and encourage eating lunch together, I imagine that profits can soar.

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